Tuesday, 31 March 2020 09:15

Meat plants open – but processing will take longer

Written by  Peter Burke
Processing stock will take much longer under COVID-19 Alert Level restrictions. Processing stock will take much longer under COVID-19 Alert Level restrictions.

Meat companies have now put in place a set of protocols that will allow stock to be killed and processed during the COVID-19 lockdown.

These also meet the guidelines laid down by the Government in respect of the safety of workers at meat processing plants.

Meat Industry Association chief executive Tim Ritchie told Rural News that his organisation and MPI – along with others – have been working on developing the guidelines for several days.

Ritchie says the unions have been kept in the loop and meat companies have worked collaboratively to develop these new protocols.

However, he warns farmers that processing stock will take much longer – given the need to meet the new requirements around space between workers and so on. 

Ritchie says this may affect sheep chains more because of distancing requirements. He says it could delay the process by up to 30% or more in some cases.

Delays will likely vary between plants. He says the meat companies have also agreed that if there are any problems at a certain plants, others will take up the slack.

Ritchie says staff at meat plants have also been briefed about how to deal with the situation and given advice on how to stay safe during the present crisis.

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