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NPA backs calls for vaccine priority for meat plant workers

27th Nov 2020 / By Alistair Driver

The NPA is backing calls from the meat industry and the Food Standards Agency to prioritise key workers in meat plants when vaccinations for COVID-19 become available. 

abattoir workers2In a letter to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, the British Meat Processors Association, along with the Food Standards Agency and the Northern Ireland Meat Exporters Association are calling on Government to consider placing the key workers in meat factories on the list of early recipients.

COVID-19 has affected meat plants across the world, in some cases causing significant disruption. A number of UK plants have been affected in recent weeks and, while great efforts have been made to keep them operational, capacity has been affected.

BMPA CEO Nick Allen said: “The nature of food processing means that we have a cold factory environment which is challenging.

"In addition, the rural locations of many meat plants means that workers often opt for house-sharing and car-sharing in the absence of other types of accommodation and transport. These two factors that were once simply part of the job, mean that our key workers face extra challenges and a higher risk of contracting covid-19.”

“Once sufficient supplies of a proven vaccine have been made available to at risk-groups like health and social care workers, we are calling on Government to then extend prioritisation for vaccinations to include meat factory workers.

"This would provide much needed protection and comfort to this at-risk group and the communities in which they live as well as ensuring that the critical food supply chain continues to run smoothly.”

NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said prioritising vaccines for meat factory workers would make a lot of sense, given the importance of keeping the food chain. "We are 100% supportive of this suggestion," she said.