Jack Quann
Jack Quann

11.54 12 Aug 2020


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A representative of the prepared consumer foods sector says it has been subject to 'unfair generalisations' amid coronavirus clusters.

Linda Stuart-Trainor is director of the Prepared Consumer Foods group.

She represents companies that make pre-prepared foods, such as O’Brien Fine Foods and Carroll Cuisine among others.

She told The Pat Kenny Show: "I think there's been a lot of unfair generalisations in this whole area in recent times.

"The companies that I represent, there's a huge variety of companies and roles in food processing.

"Yes, the general operatives that are conducting some of the production work are the lower paid workers in these companies.

"But we must remember that we have very high minimum wage in this country.

"The other thing to mention is that over 90% of workers in these companies are from the EU, and Irish is the most common nationality amongst them.

"And I think it's also worth noting that the two companies in the sector that are currently closed have committed to fully paying their staff during that shut-down period".

"One of the really notable features of the outbreak that we've seen in the sector is the really high level of asymptomatic cases.

"So in fact there were no signals - either to the individuals or to the company - that there was any cause for concern.

"And that was even in the case of daily or more frequent temperature checking and other measures".

Asked about why there is higher incidence in this sector, she said: "There's no simple answer to that question - but what I would say is that we need to remember that despite all of our nation's efforts, the COVID-19 virus is still out there in the community.

"And now that society is opening up more and more, we were told to expect that there would be clusters from time to time around the economy.

"We have to remember while the virus might be identified in factories, it's certainly not created there - and it's all part of this movement of people from the community into factories and back out again.

"The really important thing is we need to figure out a way to manage this, because we have to keep essential businesses operating - especially as we go into the winter and this potentially affects more and more sectors".

She says the factories she represents were inspected, and introduced their own precautions initially.

But she added: "I think our response to this virus really needs to be collaborative between individuals and personal responsibility, between workplaces and between Government and the public health authorities.

"And I think really listening to the public health authorities is absolutely crucial at this time and as we go forward".

Main image: File photo of the Carroll Cuisine meat plant in Co Offaly. Picture by: Eamonn Farrell / Rollingnews.ie

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Carroll Cuisine Coronavirus Linda Stuart-trainor O'Brien Fine Foods Prepared Consumer Foods Prepared Foods Sector

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