QPL’s Brechin plant closes due to COVID-19 outbreak

Scotland’s biggest pork processing plant has closed for two weeks as a result of a COVID-19 outbreak among staff.

There have been a number of positive cases at Quality Pork Processors’ Limited (QPL) Brechin plant, which has become the latest major UK pork plant to suffer serious disruption due to the virus. The closure, which was announced on Monday, took effect from Saturday.

The QPL Board said: “The decision has been made as a result of the impact of Covid-19 on our workforce and the high level of absenteeism at the site which has made maintaining safe operations extremely difficult.

“All employees are now being treated as close contacts of a number of team members who have received positive test results during the past week.

“All affected colleagues are being fully supported to self-isolate in line with government guidelines, and we are working closely with public health authorities, Scottish government and farmers to help manage the situation.”

Prior to this outbreak, there had been no positive cases at the site, the board added.

Andy McGowan, of Scottish Pig Producers, said the co-operative, which runs the plant with QPL, Scotlean and Pilgrim’s, was working closely with its farmers to source additional accommodation for the pigs and ensure animal welfare standards are not compromised.

“The Brechin facility is key for the longer sustainability of the Scottish pig industry and to ensure livestock does not have to travel long distances,” he said.

“We will work with the QPP Board in planning for the reopening of the facility as soon as possible to limit the impact on animal welfare for our farmers.”

Last week, NHS Tayside’s associate director of public health, Dr Ellie Hothersall, said the board was working closely with Food Standards Scotland and Angus Council’s environmental health team, the BBC reported.

She added: “The multi-agency Incident Management Team (IMT) will continue to keep the situation under close review.”

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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.