MII ‘seeks engagement’ with HSE to roll-out factory staff testing

Meat Industry Ireland (MII), the body that represents the meat processing industry, has said that it has written to the Health Service Executive (HSE) seeking “early engagement to facilitate the planning of testing at our members’ facilities”.

MII wrote to the HSE’s National Standing Oversight Committee in response to government plans announced at the weekend to undertake more regular Covid-19 testing in the food sector.

“We appreciate that the specific approach and roll-out of testing at processing facilities will be worked through by the newly-established HSE National Standing Oversight Committee over the coming days,” MII said in statement.

MII members will engage fully with this new development, as they have done with the HSE Local Outbreak Control Teams throughout the pandemic.

“Arrangements for testing and the speedy delivery of test results need to be worked out, so that the desired result of beating the virus is achieved, while also ensuring that the essential nature of the fresh food supply chain is maintained,” the statement added.

MII also said that its members “welcome unannounced HSA [Health and Safety Authority] inspections”.

“The nature of the many inspections to-date at our members’ facilities has been both announced and unannounced, as has been confirmed by the HSA itself,” the statement concluded.

Restrictions in 3 counties

The Covid-19 situation in (both primary and secondary) meat and food processing (as well as other, unrelated facilities and locations, such as direct provision centres) has resulted in new public health guidelines and restrictions for counties Kildare, Laois and Offaly.

MII said on Friday that it spoke with the acting chief medical officer Ronan Glynn, as well as government departments, to review safety protocols in 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 on Friday, 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.”