Outbreak at Cleckheaton meat processing plant ‘must be investigated’

Labour has demanded an urgent investigation into coronavirus outbreaks in meat processing plants after a swathe of examples in Cleckheaton and further afield.
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Hundreds of workers have been reported to have tested positive at processing and packing plants, contributing to coronavirus hotspots in Cleckheaton, as well as in Cambridgeshire and Wales.

An outbreak at Kober Ltd prompted fears of a local lockdown in the district neighbouring Kirklees, including Bradford and Calderdale.

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While three people have died after an outbreak at Cranswick Foods, in Wombwell, near Barnsley.

Kober meat factory in CleckheatonKober meat factory in Cleckheaton
Kober meat factory in Cleckheaton

In Wales, there have been clusters this month at the Two Sisters chicken factory, in Anglesey, and Rowan Foods, in Wrexham.

Major outbreaks have also been reported at meat packing plants all over the world. Ireland has had 16 clusters linked to meat factories, with over 800 workers infected and 16 hospitalised.

Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary Luke Pollard has now written to the Government calling for an urgent investigation.

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He said: “We have been seeing far too many recent reports of serious outbreaks of Covid-19 amongst workers in meat plants.”

Several meat processing plants across the UK have been at the centre of virus outbreaksSeveral meat processing plants across the UK have been at the centre of virus outbreaks
Several meat processing plants across the UK have been at the centre of virus outbreaks

He noted in the USA in April and May, there were nearly 100 deaths among more than 17,000 workers testing positive for coronavirus at various meat facilities.

In his letter to Environment Secretary George Eustice, he said: “To ensure this does not happen here and to help maintain the good name of responsible food businesses, the Government must in my view take more

urgent and robust action to minimise further risks to workers’ health.”

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Mr Pollard said: “There are thousands of people working in chilled and moist workplaces like meat packing factories throughout the country.

George Eustice Minister for EnvironmentGeorge Eustice Minister for Environment
George Eustice Minister for Environment

"The large number of Covid-19 outbreaks should have prompted a stronger response from the Government to understand why these plants are most affected and what can be done to slow the spread of the virus in food factories.”

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said the Secretary of State will respond in due course.