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Task force set up to work with food factories following Banham Poultry outbreak

A task group has been formed to work with food processing plants across Suffolk to prevent coronavirus outbreaks similar to that seen at Banham Poultry.

A total of 127 staff members out of 735 have tested positive at the meat processing plant since the start of the outbreak last month, prompting Suffolk’s public health team to establish a dedicated task force to work with high-risk places.

During a meeting of Suffolk’s Local Outbreak Engagement Board this week, public health director Stuart Keeble said: “We’ve come together with Environmental Health and Trading Standards to look at high-risk work settings.

Stuart Keeble, Suffolk director of public health.
Stuart Keeble, Suffolk director of public health.

“The Food Standards Agency and Health and Safety Executive are actually the leading enforcement agencies, we have still taken an approach of making contact with them [food processing plants], sending advice to the 48 other meat processing plants and the 68 food processing and farming food production sites.

“We have also done follow-up checks as well just to check to see how they are implementing the Covid controls.

“We are going to be working with the Health and Safety Executive to do more spot checks and, where issues are raised, we will work jointly with them.”

The Banham Poultry outbreak is being managed by Norfolk County Council’s public health team, but Suffolk’s equivalents recognised that some of the staff at the Attleborough plant live in Suffolk.

Mr Keeble (pictured) said: “We have looked at that situation and worked out how we can best prevent any spread within Suffolk and also support those individuals.

“We were informed about this one weekend and it enabled us to test out our contact tracing functions, contacting all the individuals offering wrap-around support.

“Where we couldn’t get in touch with people, we worked with district and borough colleagues to ensure no one was missed.”

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