Dawn Meats plant in Kilbeggan said decision taken ‘out of an abundance of caution’
A beef processing plant in Co Westmeath has closed its doors following the confirmation of a number of Covid-19 cases at the facility.
The Dawn Meats plant in Kilbeggan said the decision had been taken out of an abundance of caution after four confirmed cases of the virus.
Dawn Meats takes the health, safety and welfare of employees, suppliers, contractors and visitors extremely seriously, it said on Friday.
We have implemented a detailed series of measures to manage risks associated with Covid-19, and to maintain social distancing in our facilities in line with procedures recommended by the HSE and other Government agencies.
When we became aware of four confirmed cases of Covid-19 amongst workers in Kilbeggan we decided to defer production in the plant yesterday.
The company said the cases reflect less than 2 per cent of staff at the plant. However the decision was taken out an abundance of caution whilst we review the situation, it continued.
No production was scheduled today or over the bank holiday weekend, and no decision has yet been taken with regards to deferring any scheduled activity next week.
Dawn Meats said the decision will have no impact on its ability to supply customers or receive cattle from farmers throughout its network of plants across the country.
The company is a major player in Irelands agrifood sector, supplying beef to McDonalds, while last summer it was one of a number of producers that had its factories blockaded by farmers protesting the price they were receiving for beef at factory gates.
Separately, Kepak confirmed that a number of employees are self-isolating in line with Government guidance on controlling the spread of Covid-19.
Kepak, which has eleven manufacturing plants across the country and in the UK, confirmed in a statement: We currently have employees in self-isolation in line with HSE guidelines around Covid-19.
It said all its sites are fully operational, albeit at lower levels related to the closure of the foodservice markets.
Concerns were also raised in the Dáil on Thursday night in relation to a number of other plants.
Sinn Féin agriculture spokesman Brian Stanley said he had received a number of complaints from factories of Rosderra Meats. They have plants in Edenderry and Roscrea, he said. Ive had complaints from both.
The worst scenario is in the case of the Roscrea one where its had an outbreak of Covid. We want to keep the factories open. Weve been very, very clear about this.
That factory, there are around 350 workers on the factory floor. There was up to 140 of those out sick throughout last week and 120 tested positive.
However, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed said that was not the information available to our Department.
Rosderra Meats has been contacted for comment.
Separately, Mr Creed said the Department was aware of six clusters [OF COVID-19], five in processing plants and one in a deboning plant.
The Department of Agriculture and Meat Industry Ireland, which represents processors, have also been contacted for comment.