By Rory Murphy
Food production and processing businesses are being urged to sign up for routine staff testing to help identify cases of coronavirus (COVID-19), keep workforces safe and break chains of transmission.
Free lateral flow antigen test kits are available to eligible businesses which are essential to maintaining an adequate supply of food for the nation, and where outbreak risks can be higher due to the working environment such as abattoirs, meat and seafood processing facilities and dairies, as well as food distribution businesses.
A number of businesses have already signed up as early adopters, including critical businesses such as the Coupar Angus poultry plant and a number of seafood processors in Grampian – some of which have been affected by COVID outbreaks.
Public Health Minister Mairi Gougeon, right, said: “Our increased capacity has allowed us to expand testing in key areas – we began in healthcare settings, then schools, and now we are bringing routine testing to higher-risk workplaces.
“This scheme is voluntary for businesses and their employees, and I am grateful to those that have already signed up. But we are encouraging as many as possible which meet the criteria to do so in order to identify cases and break chains of transmission.
“Keeping these vital workers safe, as part of our wider testing programme, will also help us beat the virus – along with our vaccination programme and everyone continuing to adhere to expert advice and guidance. These three critical actions that will see us move, step by step, to protect the public, save lives and a brighter year ahead.”
Meanwhile, the Scottish Government would like to hear from larger (over 25 employees) higher risk food processing businesses such as abattoirs, meat and seafood processing and dairies where, despite mitigations already in place, a combination of low temperatures, limited ventilation, low light, high humidity can facilitate spread of the virus and lead to outbreaks.
We would also like to hear from food distribution businesses where the loss of a facility due to an outbreak could lead to impacts on food supply by reducing supplies to retail or hindering exports. The Scottish Government and Food Standards Scotland will determine whether a business falls within the criteria.
This programme is run in partnership with UK Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) and NHS Scotland Test and Protect.
Full and detailed guidance will be available to help businesses.
If your business would be interested in taking part, please email FoodSupplyInformation@gov.scot with the following information:
- Name and Email for main point of contact
- Business Name
- Industry sector – This should be the standard industry code (e.g. 46380 – Wholesale of other food, including fish, crustaceans and molluscs). For companies this can be found on your Companies House registration.
- Number of employees
- Company registration number (if applicable)
- Address where the test kits would be delivered to (including postcode)