NPA urges producers to maintain hygiene standards amid reports of COVID-19 issues in abattoirs

The NPA is urging producers to maintain the strictest standards of hygiene and biosecurity amid reports of issues with COVID-19 in a number of processing plants.

While, for the first few weeks of the crisis, pork plants managed to operate relatively smoothly with only minimal disruption, a number of COVID-19 issues relating to staff absence have been reported recently in meat processing plants, including pork sites.

The highest profile example has been at Moy Park’s chicken processing plant, in Northern Ireland, where a worker has died. The Unite Union has raised concerns about a number of plants in Northern Ireland, while NPA is also aware of several meat plants in England that are having difficulties.

NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said: “We do not want to unduly alarm people – as things stand there is enough capacity for the industry to cope with any disruption.

“But it is important to bear in mind that we are still very much dependent on the supply chain operating well and we are nowhere near the end of this outbreak.

“We urge everyone to be mindful of the need to maintain the strict biosecurity and hygiene measures that many businesses put in place at the start of the outbreak. We must keep this up and not relax too early. We only have to look at the US to see how dire things can get if we are not careful.

“We also advise producers to continue pulling pigs forward where possible to make sure that there is still some slack in the system.”

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Editor of LBM titles Pig World and Farm Business and group editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer. National Pig Association's webmaster. Previously political editor at Farmers Guardian for many years and also worked Farmers Weekly. Occasional farming media pundit. Brought up on a Leicestershire farm, now work from a shed in the garden in Oxfordshire. Big fan of Leicester City and Leicester Tigers. Occasional cricketer.