September 2, 2020
Government must take control of food plant inspections – Matt Carthy TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture Matt Carthy TD has said that the government cannot continue to allow a regime of self-regulation to pertain in the food processing sector’s response to Covid-19. 

He repeated his call for urgent clarification to be provided regarding the Covid-19 outbreak at the ABP meat plant in Clones, Co. Monaghan and other sites.

He said:

“No other private industry has had more of an impact on Covid-19 cases than the meat and food processing sector. Yet, it is often impossible to get clear information as to what is going on either at a macro level or within individual factories.

“For example, last week we learned that there were two confirmed cases of Covid-19 at the ABP meat plant in Clones. Indications suggested that these were related to individuals who had not been at work for over two weeks and that testing was taking place as a precautionary measure. Yet that testing, we are now told, resulted in fourteen additional cases being identified. All of the information received comes from the factories themselves.

“Last week I wrote to the CEOs of the HSE and the Health and Safety Authority, as well the Minister for Health asking for information pertaining to cases at food processing plants and the operational procedures in instances of confirmed cases at factories. I have yet to receive a substantive reply from any of them.

“It is imperative that the government and statutory agencies take control of the situation. The public should not be dependent on the industry for information of such significance. The ongoing process whereby public bodies, including the HSE, HSA and government Departments refuse to provide information, allow the meat industry to drip-fed reports and the practice of private companies undertaking tests in factories while they remain operational must end.”

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