Vaccine coud keep meat supply chain rolling
The British Meat Processing Association makes its case for meat processing workers to be front of the queue for COVID-19 vaccine.
The world has been buoyed in recent weeks by the results of late-stage trials of vaccines against COVID-19, which have indicated strong immune response from all age groups. Both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna jabs have proved that a vaccine might not be far away, and the scramble to immunise the population will see health services across the world mobilised in way they never have before.
With this good news comes difficult decisions, namely deciding who will get the vaccine – and how quickly. Health workers are expected to be immunised first, but many industries are making the case for their workers to be next in the queue, including the meat processing sector.
In a letter to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA), along with the Food Standards Agency and the Northern Ireland Meat Exporters Association are calling on the UK Government to consider placing the key workers in meat factories on the list of early recipients.
It’s been well documented that the meat industry globally has had its share of challenges during the pandemic – the Tönnies meat plant in Germany was at the centre of a large outbreak earlier this year – yet the BMPA stresses that its members have done everything they can to keep their workers safe.
Nick Allen, CEO of BMPA explains: “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 mean 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.”
Allen made his plea to the Government quite clear: “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.”