Three people who worked at a North East cooked meats facility have died after testing positive for coronavirus.
Farmers Guardian understands the un-named staff members worked at Cranswick’s site in Wombwell, Yorkshire on different shift patterns and had not been in the plant since April 7.
The company has also reported a small number of confirmed Covid-19 cases across the group.
In a statement, Cranswick stressed the health and safety of colleagues was its ‘number one priority’.
A Cranswick spokesperson said: “Sadly, three of our colleagues have passed away with Covid-19. Our thoughts and condolences are with their families and we are providing full support to them and to all of our colleagues directly affected by Covid-19.
“From the outset of the pandemic, we have followed all governmental and regulatory guidance, in many cases going beyond the guidelines provided.
“We have evolved our practices and implemented additional measures to protect our colleagues including social distancing as far as practical, regular deep cleaning at our sites, visors and recommended personal protection equipment for all employees in line with the Public Health England and World Health Organisation guidelines.
“All colleagues have been told not to attend work if they, or anyone they live with, have any symptoms.
“Cranswick employees are designated key workers and are at the forefront of maintaining vital supplies of fresh food into the supermarkets. We continue to do everything we can to protect them while they carry out this critical role.”
Several food manufacturers have also been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Last week a Moy Park poultry factory worker in Co. Tyrone died from the virus.
A spokesperson for Moy Park said: “We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of one of our team members. Our thoughts are with Luciana’s family and friends at this incredibly difficult time.
“The terrible impact of the coronavirus pandemic continues to greatly affect everyone’s daily lives throughout our community.
“As we have consistently stated, the health, wellbeing and safety of our Moy Park team members is always our most important consideration.”
The company stated significant measures have been in place for some time at all of their sites and are stringently followed. These include ‘staggered breaks, respaced workstations and communal areas, instillation of perspex screens on appropriate production lines, enhanced cleaning and additional personal protection equipment’.
“We continue to consult, evolve and review our measures to ensure rigorous safety,” the spokesperson added.
2 Sisters also revealed a ‘small number’ of workers across different departments tested positive for Covid-19 at its poultry meat processing site in Cullompton, Devon, at the start of May.
Nick Allen, chief executive officer of the British Meat Processing Association (BMPA), said: “At the start of the lockdown, Government guidance did not come quick enough.
“BMPA, with member input, produced a best practise guide which is continually evolving in line with the latest health advice and there has been a considerable effort to get it right and ensure the continuation of food production.”