Liffey Meats has dismissed social media reports “that 160 employees of the plant are symptomatic of coronavirus” as false.
In a statement, the company said that the claims were “grossly inaccurate” and that every care was taken to safeguard their employees during the pandemic.
The social media post on Facebook originated from an anonymous source and centred on the Ballyjamesduff plant in Co Cavan.
We are in ongoing contact with the HSE, who have confirmed that they are very satisfied with all the measures
“The health and wellbeing of our employees and everyone entering our plants is our priority,” a spokesperson for Liffey Meats said.
“From the outset, our team has overseen the implementation of a full set of enhanced safety procedures across all of our plants, which also included adopting all the Government and HSE recommended guidelines.
“These steps must be adhered to by everyone entering and leaving the plants, including all employees, suppliers and farmers.
“We are in ongoing contact with the HSE, who have confirmed that they are very satisfied with all the measures we have in place.”
They said that they would continue to monitor the situation, including updating guidelines as required.
While the beef kill is down compared with last year and compared with the first two weeks of March, preceding the COVID-19 shutdown in Ireland, factories maintain this is due to market demand rather than staff shortages.
The pig and sheep kills have remained strong.
It is understood that there have been cases of COVID-19 among staff in a large proportion of the 40+ processing plants at this stage.
A small number of factories are understood to have had higher numbers of staff off work with the virus. Where staff test positive, the HSE and the factory work together on contact tracing and other measures to control the spread.
As reported in the Irish Farmers Journal, meat processors have taken a wide range of measures to reduce the risk and prevent the spread of the virus among staff. Many are now conducting daily staff temperature testing and Perspex screens between workers on the line as standard.
Additional reporting by Caitríona Morrissey.