Food Drink Ireland to outline control measures in plants at Covid-19 committee

Food Drink Ireland (FDI), the body that represents, among others, the secondary meat processing sector, will appear before the Special Oireachtas Committee on Covid-19 today, Thursday, August 13.

In advance of that, FDI has said that prepared consumer meat companies have introduced “stringent control and mitigation measures since mid-March, including the national Return to Work Protocol”.

The FDI said that verification of these measures have been overseen by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) and inspections by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

The food industry is deemed an essential service by government, so has remained open while dealing with the risks of the pandemic. Where cases of Covid-19 have been detected, our members have responded in accordance with HSE [Health Service Executive] guidance.

“We must take appropriate measures to ensure the continuity of essential businesses and to protect our economy. This must involve government, public health officials and businesses working together to ensure that there is a proportionate response to outbreaks within the community,” said Paul Kelly, director of FDI.

He added: “The experience of the sector to date has highlighted a number of key considerations for further testing in communities and workplaces, including speed of swabbing and testing; data protection; and business continuity and sustainability.

“It is vital that a considered and coordinated approach is developed that is proportionate, takes account of the essential nature of food processing and is grounded in expert advice from the health authorities,” Kelly concluded.

MII

FDI will be joined at the committee by representatives of Meat Industry Ireland (MII), which represents the primary meat processing sector.

MII said it will stress the importance of turning around Covid-19 test results in less than 24 hours.

In a statement this morning, the group said that it will point to the “significant progress that has been made” since its representatives last appeared before the committee, with “only one active Covid-19 cluster at a primary processing plant, compared to 22 active clusters in early July”.