Coronavirus: 80 cases confirmed at Kildare meat factory

O'Brien Fine Foods produces more than 80 per cent of Lidl’s sliced hams, sliced beef and poultry lines. File photo

O’Brien Fine Foods has suspended all processing operations at its facility at Timahoe, Co Kildare from 9pm on Thursday night.

It comes after 80 employees tested positive for coronavirus.

The company has since worked with the Health Service Executive (HSE) to test all employees.

Announcing the suspension, the company said: “Of 243 tests completed, 80 have been confirmed as positive for Covid-19.

“Of the 80 confirmed, the level of asymptomatic infectivity appears to be very high. We are completing testing of a further 42 employees today.

“Those who have tested positive have been advised to isolate as per the official guidance and full risk assessment and contract tracing procedures are under way. All close contacts of those affected are being notified, advised to self-isolate and to contact their GP.”

The company said it has been following public health guidance throughout the pandemic, including working from home for all non-operations staff, mandatory PPE, perspex screens, staggered shift and break times, a restricted site visitor policy, daily temperature checking, changing work practices, communications in five languages, and intensive cleaning and sanitisation procedures.

“Given this level of rigour and our comparatively low level of confirmed cases up to this point, this sudden spike is difficult to comprehend,” the company added.

O’Brien Fine Foods is a family-run business which supplies a range of branded and own-label meat products to the Irish market, including the Brady Family, Green Farm and Homebird cooked meat ranges.

Owned by the O’Brien Family since 2000 and operating from three dedicated facilities in counties Kildare, Meath and Westmeath, it produces more than 80 per cent of Lidl’s sliced hams, sliced beef and poultry lines.