Forty meat plant inspectors with the CFIA, including 21 working in Alberta facilities, have tested positive for the novel coronavirus according to the union representing the inspectors.

Agriculture Union president Fabian Murphy told Global News on Wednesday that since the middle of April, cases among food inspectors have been steadily rising.

Of the 37 inspectors stationed at the Cargill Meat Solutions plant in High River, Alta. — the site of one of the biggest outbreaks in the country — 18 have tested positive for the virus, according to Murphy.

“I think [the numbers are] too high. I think it’s unacceptable that we keep sending people into those plants and they keep getting infected with COVID-19,” Manning said. “I don’t think it’s the responsible thing to do.

“As the employer, CFIA is responsible to protect the health and safety of these folks, and I think, unless they can guarantee that there’s a safe environment there, then those plants should be shut down and those people should not have to go to work there.”

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While Murphy couldn’t speak to the medical status of the individuals who are ill,