McConalogue calls for immediate COVID-19 testing in all meat and dairy processing plants

Published on: 01 May 2020

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture, Food, and the Marine Charlie McConalogue TD says employees in meat and dairy processing plants must be tested for COVID-19 following the emergence of six confirmed clusters of the novel coronavirus in plants throughout the country.  

He commented, “I am calling on the Minister for Health, his Department and the Minister for Agriculture to coordinate a testing regime for those who work in meat and dairy processing plants. I understand there are at least six confirmed clusters in meat processing plants at this time. The Government need to act on this immediately before the rate of transmission in meat processing plants increases.

“There are approximately 15k employees in the meat packing industry in Ireland. They are vital to ensuring the food supply chain is stable here at home and in Europe. The safety of employees in plants is integral to this process. We need a robust testing regime implemented for their safety right away.

“90% of all dairy and beef produced is exported to markets abroad. If there is a problem in any step of the process ultimately it is the farmer and local economy that take the hit. The Minister must be swift in taking actions to prevent any disruption to the food supply chain.

“Meat processors themselves have been proactive in protecting their employees but they need support in these unprecedented times. As testing continues to grow in the State a part of this testing must be dedicated to those in meat and dairy processing plants affected by clusters or suspected clusters,” concluded Deputy McConalogue.