About 140 people have tested positive for the coronavirus at a Norfolk meat processing plant, it emerged today.
Norfolk County Council said there had been a ‘significant outbreak’ of Covid-19 at the Cranswick Country Foods site in Watton.
So far, some 300 plant staff have been tested, with the rest to be cleaned up today.
The outbreak comes as 75 workers at a Bernard Matthews turkey factory in Great Witchingham, Norfolk, also tested positive for the coronavirus earlier this month.
There has been a ‘significant outbreak’ of Covid-19 at the Cranswick Country Foods site in Watton (pictured)
This map shows the number of positive Covid-19 cases in the Watton area in the seven days leading up to October 21 – the most recent data, before the outbreak
Last week, a cookie factory where Jammy Dodgers and Wagon Wheels are made was hit by a Covid-19 outbreak, with four staff members testing positive for the virus.
Burton’s Biscuits in Edinburgh said four workers were asked to return home and self-isolate after receiving positive test results on October 23.
A spokesperson for the company added that social distancing measures were in place and production would continue at the bakery.
The council’s director of public health, Dr Louise Smith, said local authorities were working with the Joint Biosecurity Center to urge residents of the Watton area to get tested if they were showing symptoms.
She said in a statement: ‘Tests on Cranswick Foods staff have revealed a significant outbreak.
“At this point, we have identified around 140 positive cases out of around 300 tested to date. Swab analysis continues, and staff remaining on site are tested today and tomorrow.
“ Due to the high proportion of positive cases received so far, we are liaising with the Joint Biosafety Center and have stepped up contact tracing and pamphlet distribution in the Watton area, urging those with symptoms to access tests. ”
Cranswick Country Foods has been contacted for comment.
As of October 15, there had also been 72 positive cases at Bernard Matthews’ food processing plant in Holton near Halesworth.
Some 75 workers have also tested positive at a Bernard Matthews turkey factory in Great Witchingham, Norfolk
Cool, humid interiors with ultraviolet light: Why meat factories are a hotbed for coronavirus outbreaks
The virus thrives in cold, humid, and indoor environments, especially on cool surfaces.
The absence of breeze or ultraviolet light from the sun means that moisture remains and cannot be killed inside food processing plants.
Additionally, social distancing is especially difficult in workplaces with a busy production line, which means the virus is likely to spread more easily.
Loud machines also force people to raise their voices, and researchers say situations in which people have to scream lead to an increased risk of projecting the virus onto others.
It wasn’t just in the UK that a trend was seen, after hundreds of people tested positive at a slaughterhouse in Berlin, while a wet market in Wuhan was said to have been at the heart of a large number of infections at the onset of the attack.
The local authority said testing at the Bernard Matthews turkey factory began on October 15, with more than 600 staff tested.
‘The results showed the majority of positive cases so far were working on the afternoon shift at the site, prompting public health to advise Bernard Matthews that the entire shift had to be self-isolate, ” Norfolk County Council said.
As of October 15, there had also been 72 positive cases at Bernard Matthews’ food processing plant in Holton near Halesworth, Suffolk County Council said.
In Suffolk, Bernard Matthews brought Covid-19 bus marshals on his free personnel transport as part of his response to the outbreak.
Food production at the processing plant has not been affected by the Covid epidemic.
The site has put in place controls since March to reduce coronavirus infections, including regular temperature checks, staff working in bubbles, Covid commissioners, masks and visors, and social distancing.
The majority of the 18 workers who tested positive live in the Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft areas and the cases have reportedly been detected in the community.
Officials including Suffolk County Council, Public Health England and Bernard Matthews are working together to deal with the situation.
Earlier this month, ten cases were linked to a factory in Scunthorpe where employees claimed they were told not to wear masks because they posed dietary risks.
The pork processing plant of Karro Food Group, one of the country’s largest food producers, has been criticized by employees for its measures against coronaviruses.
Workers have reported a spate of cases over the past week, although the company has claimed to have been infected through “contact with the community.” He also insisted that he was following all government guidelines.
A factory worker, who wished to remain anonymous, said: ‘The staff are falling like flies and being sent home. There are now around ten confirmed cases.
Food factories ravaged by Covid epidemics
- October 26: Cranswick Country Foods site in Watton, Norfolk
- October 23: Burton Biscuit Factory in Edinburgh
- October 22: Bernard Matthews Turkey Factory, Great Witchingham, Norfolk
- October 6: Karro Food Group pork processing plant in Scunthorpe
- September 30: Pilgrim’s Pride Food Factory in Pool, near Redruth, Cornwall
- September 29: Bernard Matthews Turkey Factory, Holton, near Halesworth in Suffolk
- September 23: Greggs factory in Newcastle
- September 11: Aunt Bessie’s Yorkshire Pudding Factory in Hull
- September 2: Millers of Speyside in the Scottish Highlands
- August 26: Food Standards Authority reveals there are at least 40 active households in factories in UK
- August 22: Banham Poultry in Attleborough, Norfolk
- August 21: Greencore in Northampton
- August 20: Cranswick to Ballymena, Northern Ireland
- August 18: Bakkavor in Newark
- August 17: 2 Sisters Food Group at Coupar Angus, Tayside
- August 17: Fyffes to Coventry, West Midlands
- August 13: Greencore in Northampton
- July 12: AS Green and Co, Herefordshire
- July 3: Walkers, Leicester
- June 26: Tulip, Tipton
- June 24: Kepak Food Group in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales
- June 23: Princes, Wisebech
- June 19: Asda, Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire
- June 19: Rowan Foods in Wrexham, Wales
- June 17: 2 Sisters Food Factory in Anglesey, North Wales
- May 15: Cranswick, Barnsley
- May 11: Moy Park in Dungannon, Northern Ireland