COVID-19 hits Aunt Bessie’s, Chaucer Foods suspends production as precaution

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Aunt Bessie's is the latest to be hit with Coronavirus
Aunt Bessie's is the latest to be hit with Coronavirus

Related tags: coronavirus

Aunt Bessie’s factory in Hull is the latest site to be hit by coronavirus. The company has confirmed a “small number” of coronavirus cases at the site of the Nomad Foods-owned brand.

The company said it acted “early and decisively”​ in March to implement new procedures and has strict protocols at all its sites, including the Hull Aunt Bessie’s factory. 

Aunt Bessie’s is the latest name to be hit by the pandemic. 

2 Sisters Food Group suspended production at its chicken plant in Llangefni, Wales, following multiple cases of COVID-19 there.

Fresh prepared food provider Bakkavor and biscuit manufacturer Pladis also had COVID-19 cases at their manufacturing sites​.

Earlier this month 30 cases were confirmed at Scottish abattoir Millers of Speyside

In a statement, Aunt Bessie’s said: “Our production facilities have always been regularly sanitised, and we introduced additional sanitisation and facility cleans in early March.

“Other measures in place at our Aunt Bessie’s facility include floorspace segregation, the use of thermal infrared cameras to detect signs of high temperature, use of Perspex barriers in some areas and mandatory wearing of face masks.

Beyond guidanc​ 

We have followed and gone beyond the guidance of national health authorities. If a factory worker contracts the virus, we would clean the area where the person was working, confirm that social distancing has been applied and apply our own track and trace procedure to identify co-workers who also need to go into isolation. Any employees who isolate due to having symptoms, or having contracted the virus, will continue receiving full pay.”

It added that it had continued to follow the guidance of national health authorities ‘very strictly’. It also confirmed that Public Health England had repeatedly complimented the company on its social distancing measures and proactive approach.  

Meanwhile, Chaucer Foods – a neighbouring factory to Aunt Bessie’s in Hull – has taken the step to temporarily suspend its production despite having no confirmed cases on site. The company said it would be testing all permanent and agency staff in the wake of the cases at Aunt Bessie’s.  

Precautionary

“This is purely a precautionary measure and there are no cases of COVID-19 within Chaucer Foods UK,” ​said Tom Malkoski, chief executive officer and founder of Chaucer Foods. 

He said the welfare of staff and their families was at the core of its decision.  

“Since February 2020 we have had strict COVID processes and controls in place at our factories,” ​said Malkoski. “All non-essential office staff have been working from home since March 2020 and our core manufacturing staff are maintaining production in the facilities.”​ 

All guidance set out by the Government and Public Health England has been the basis for our COVID-19 management process and we have consistently gone above and beyond this guidance.

“Strict social distancing measures are in place in our factories and we update our policies regularly and communicate with our staff frequently.” 

Related topics: COVID-19

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