Meat Industry Ireland (MII) has said that it spoke this morning, Friday, August 7, with the acting chief medical officer Ronan Glynn, as well as government departments, to review safety protocols in meat processing plants.

This follows a recent return of Covid-19 clusters in processing plants, and a general spike in the number of cases associated with factories.

In a statement this afternoon, MII said: “This morning, MII engaged with government departments; the acting chief medical officer; and trade union representatives to further review the protocols in place and look at any additional actions that can be undertaken.

Speed of testing results and the track and trace process are critical, as is continuous clear communications with staff around all aspects of dealing with the Covid threat.

MII insists that “robust protocols” are already in place in meat plants.

“These are fully in line with specific Health Service Executive [HSE] guidance for meat processing and are constantly monitored by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, which has a permanent presence in the plants, as well as by ongoing Health and Safety Authority [HSA] inspections,” the statement added.

All this follows the news this week that the Kildare Chilling processing plant in Co. Kildare has suspended operations following what is understood to be a significant outbreak of Covid-19.

‘Completely inaccurate’

MII also insisted that “a very high proportion” of positive cases were asymptomatic, meaning they did not show any well-known symptoms of the virus and were not feeling unwell.

MII claimed that it had been “alleged in some quarters” that this was not the case and, furthermore, that workers were failing to report their symptoms, which the body claimed was “completely inaccurate”.

Food Drink Ireland

Meanwhile, Food Drink Ireland, which is responsible for representing secondary meat processors, also met with government officials today.

The body said that there was “strong agreement” that processors should “reinforce communications to ensure staff are fully aware of safe practices to follow in work and outside work in the community”.

The speed of testing and contact tracing was also brought up during the Food Drink Ireland meeting.