Woolworths suspends meat supply from abattoir hit by Covid-19 outbreak
Woolworths has temporarily suspended the sale of meat from a South Australian abattoir where positive Covid-19 cases were permitted to return to work.
The supermarket chain announced on Monday that it halted all supply through Teys’ SA facility in Naracoorte, in the state’s South East.
Teys is one of the major retailer’s processing suppliers and it continues to process meat through its facilities in other states.
NCA NewsWire understands Woolworths could return to processing the meat from the SA site as soon as this week.
In a statement, Woolworths said it was working with Teys, SA Health and SafeWork SA to “understand the protocols in place” for the abbatior’s team and operations.
A Woolworths spokesperson said the business had no involvement in the decision to introduce the “exceptional temporary Covid measures” at the abattoir last week.
“We continue to work with a number of other sites and partners across the country to supply Australian meat to our customers, moving as much stock through the supply chain as possible during the current disruptions,” the spokesperson said.
“We expect all of our suppliers to adhere to the Covid safety protocols set by their relevant state authorities.”
SA Health last week granted an exemption for a “small group” of asymptomatic “critical staff” to return to the facility despite their positive results “to ensure food security”.
Those employees were directed to work in an isolated area away from others and were not permitted to leave their isolation for any other reason until they were cleared from Covid.
It is understood the special circumstances for the positive workers to return to work has now expired.
On Monday, SA Health said it worked closely with Teys management to create a return to work plan that was safe for employees and the community.
“The plan includes appropriate PPE, regular RAT testing of workers and site visitors and ensuring only asymptomatic workers who feel well return to work,” a SA Health spokesperson said.
The outbreak linked to the site has reached almost 140 cases and testing is still underway.
A Teys spokesperson said no SA team member on site had tested positive to the virus over the past seven days.
As part of the company’s policies and procedures, the workers regularly undertook rapid antigen tests, wore full personal protective equipment, practised social distancing and high levels of personal hygiene, and all visitors were required to be fully vaccinated, the spokesperson said.
“Contrary to misleading claims made in the public domain, no worker has been, or will be forced to work if they are unwell,” the Teys statement read.
“In fact, we are specifically instructing our workers not to present for work if they feel unwell or they do not meet the strict requirements of the relevant state health authorities.
“Our team has a critical role to play for food security across the country and in each jurisdiction we operate, Teys Australia works strictly according to the requirements of the relevant health authorities.”
No Woolworths-sourced cattle are currently at the Naracoorte abattoir.
Originally published as Woolworths suspends meat supply from abattoir hit by Covid-19 outbreak
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