Cowen calls for cross-departmental approach to ensure proper processes in place in meat plants

Published on: 01 May 2020

Fianna Fáil TD for Offaly Barry Cowen has expressed his concern as the Minister for Agriculture confirmed that he and his department are aware of six clusters of COVID-19 in beef plants.

He was commenting as Rosderra Meats in Roscrea confirmed that there was a number of COVID-19 cases among its staff.

Deputy Cowen said the Department of Health and the Department of Agriculture should conduct an independent verification to ensure that all procedures and processes in plants across the country meet public health guidelines.

He said, “At the outset of this pandemic I assisted Rosderra Meats in liaising with public health officials to ensure that they could put in place policies which allowed them to keep their plant open while adhering to social distancing guidelines.

“Despite this a number of employees in their Roscrea plant have tested positive for COVID-19. My thoughts are with them and I wish them a speedy recovery. I understand that all employees of the plant have been tested and perhaps this is something which could be considered in other plants as the HSE continue to increase their testing capacity.

“The safety of employees has to be paramount. I understand maintaining our food supply chains is an essential service, but the health and concerns of employees must be to the forefront.

“COVID-19 will be with us for a long time and we need to adapt. The Ministers for Health and Agriculture should put in place a system by which they can independently verify the health and safety procedures which are in place in plants. There must be oversight to ensure that the public health guidelines are being adhered to,” he concluded.