My Department is contributing to the whole-of-Government response to managing outbreaks of Covid -19 in food plants. In the context of Covid-19, human health must be the absolute priority for all of us, and therefore it is vitally important that all our decisions and actions led by public health advice.
COVID 19 outbreaks in workplaces, including food plants, are dealt with by the HSE. The actions to be taken in relation to outbreaks in workplaces, including food plants, are determined by the local Public Health teams. DAFM is formally notified of all outbreaks in food plants via the HSE led National Standing Oversight Committee (NSOC), which my Department participates in. This is the process which was followed in relation to the company referenced by the Deputy.
My Department’s statutory responsibility in relation to meat processing establishments is to ensure that these premises operate in compliance with the EU’s food hygiene legislation, animal health and animal welfare standards. In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, my Department is participating in the HSE-chaired National Standing Committee on high risk settings, which meets on an ongoing basis to review existing protocols and compliance measures, and to identify any additional control measures required.
My Department is also supporting the HSE and the Health and Safety Authority in monitoring the effective implementation of all relevant Covid-19 guidance in DAFM-approved food plants. There is no room for complacency with regard to the threat posed by Covid-19, and my Department is continually engaged with industry to ensure that the basic measures are implemented correctly.