Plans to roll out testing in dairy processors as well as meat plants

Covid-19 testing in dairy processing facilities is understood to be on the cards as well as in the meat processing sector, leading to puzzlement among some in the dairy industry.

Some – though apparently not all – dairy processors were made aware of this through correspondence from the Health Service Executive (HSE).

Conor Mulvihill, the director of Dairy Industry Ireland (DII), told AgriLand: “It was a surprise to us [for dairy processors to be included]… We are trying to get to the bottom of it.”

Mulvihill said it was “unclear” if this testing will pertain just to the three counties under enhanced restrictions – Kildare, Laois and Offaly – or if it would be rolled out on a wider basis.

He added that DII was awaiting the outcome of meetings of both the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) and cabinet later on today, Tuesday, August 18.

“We’ll do everything that is necessary. For [the dairy industry] to perform well and be dragged into this is puzzling [but] we’ll adhere to any public health information,” Mulvihill said.

The DII director added that, once the issue of testing is clarified, dairy processors would comply.

Mulvihill highlighted the strong performance of the dairy sector in preventing and tackling the spread of Covid-19, despite having to keep going in “all scenarios”, saying: “You can delay an animal getting processed but you can’t delay milk.”

He also questioned why dairy specifically would be included for a general roll-out of testing, as opposed to industries like pharmaceuticals and construction.

Covid-19 case in Tipp meat plant

Shifting focus to the meat processing industry, news emerged yesterday (Monday, August 17) that a worker at the ABP plant in Cahir, Co. Tipperary, had been diagnosed with Covid-19.

In a statement, ABP said: “On Friday [August 14], ABP Cahir was notified of a positive Covid-19 test of one of its employees, after being referred for testing as a result of the company’s factory entrance employee assessment procedures.

“In line with HSE and company protocols, all close contacts of the worker are self-isolating and are now undergoing testing. ABP Cahir will continue to take guidance and direction from both the HSE and the HSA [Health and Safety Authority] in relation to the case,” the group’s statement added.