COVID-19 outbreak at Victorian meat processing facility

Tuesday, 05 May, 2020

COVID-19 outbreak at Victorian meat processing facility

It has been reported on 5 May 2020 that 45 staff at a Melbourne meat processor have tested positive for Covid-19.

Cedar Meats General Manager Tony Kairouz said in a media statement that the company first became aware that one of its employees had contracted COVID-19, following an admission to Sunshine hospital for an unrelated matter on Monday, 27 April 2020.

“Since that time we have followed the advice of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and been thankful for all its advice and support.”

Kairouz explained that all the staff worked in one area of the plant and the company has worked diligently with the DHHS to protect other staff.

“From the time we became aware that one of our staff had contracted the virus we had kept our staff closely informed. By Thursday, 30 April we mandated to all staff that they had to get tested for COVID-19. We worked closely with DHHS and by the end of the day Friday, 1 May, all staff had been sent for testing.

“For the past few days our focus has been 100% inward on closing down the processing side of our business, taking care of staff and animal welfare. We have in no way sought not be transparent with the Victorian community. We are deeply saddened that there is speculation that we have sought to hide from something that is not of our making — it is an outbreak of a worldwide pandemic at our plant. We look forward to continuing to work with DHHS and will fully co-operate with any requirements as they eventuate,” the statement concludes.

The food safety regulator of Victoria’s meat and seafood industries, PrimeSafe, said the Victorian DHHS is managing a COVID-19 outbreak linked with a Victorian meat processing facility. PrimeSafe is assisting DHHS to determine that food safety regulatory requirements have been met by the facility, and to understand supply chain connections to assist with staff tracing.

PrimeSafe stated: “In accordance with advice from Food Standards Australia New Zealand there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted to people through food or packaging. Based on this information, consumers can have confidence that meat processed at the facility is safe to eat.”

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