The portrayal of meat processing sites as COVID-19 hotbeds is unfair, the chief executive of the British Poultry Association has said.
Richard Griffiths said poultry meat businesses were doing all they can to safeguard their employees, following news that several plants, including 2 Sisters’ site in Llangefni and a bacon processing plant in Yorkshire had experienced virus outbreaks.
“No amount of preparation and vigilance can guarantee complete protection against COVID-19,” said Griffiths. “Unfair portrayal of meat processing sites as virus epicentres is unacceptable.”
“British poultry meat businesses are doing all they can to safeguard their employees and maintain high standards of production from farm to fork. The industry has acted responsibly and invested in the necessary infrastructure and practices to implement appropriate social distancing measures as per Government guidelines.
“Where the production environment makes it impossible to observe the 2-metre distancing requirement, our businesses have adapted quickly by bringing in bespoke solutions such as enhanced PPE, mandatory face coverings, Perspex screens and managing flow of traffic through staggering shifts and breaks. This has played a vital role in ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our key workers.”
Griffiths said contrary to numerous reports about meat processing plants, average staff absence across the poultry meat industry is less than 5%. This covers cases of COVID-19, those shielding, carers, and other usual absences.
However, he said the indsutry was still struggling with lack of access to PPE. “Continued availability of Personal Protective Equipment remains a concern for our member businesses, given its surge in demand across the country. PPE has always been a requirement of poultry meat producers in order to ensure high standards from farm to fork. Access to PPE must be an integral part of the Government’s plans as it looks to prioritise access to supplies to ensure the nation’s health and wellbeing.”