At the end of March 2020, as COVID-19 spread globally, the New Zealand meat processing and exporting industry took proactive steps to prevent the spread of the disease at processing plants and protect its people.
The industry’s COVID-19 Alert Level 4 Safety Protocol was developed based on guidance from the World Health Organization, and New Zealand’s Ministry of Health, and advice from the New Zealand Food Safety Science Research Centre. New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), WorkSafe New Zealand, and the New Zealand Meat Workers Union and the New Zealand Public Service Association were also consulted.
All New Zealand meat processors adopted the protocol and registered a COVID-19 Safety Plan with MPI, which audited compliance at each site.
There was a high level of compliance by meat processors and although a limited number of meat process employees tested positive for COVID-19, the infection occurred off-site and there was no workplace transmission.
Compliance with the protocol (especially segregation of employee into teams and strict physical distancing) meant that meat production was significantly reduced, but the industry remained committed to keeping its people safe and to provide assurances to New Zealanders that it was playing its part in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
You can find a factsheet that summarises the sector’s response to COVID-19 and the protocols put in place to prevent the spread of the disease at processing plants here.
In summary, at Alert Level 4 (the highest level), the following procedures were followed:
Protocols for Alerts Level 3 and 2 were also produced for the industry to reflect the relevant government guidance.
Under Alert Level 1 (the current state in New Zealand) there are no protocols, but the basic guidance for processors is:
Alert Levels 3 and 4 Protocol 24.08 - at 31 August 2021
MPI's acknowledgement of the Alert Level 4 MIA Protocol can be downloaded here.
Alert Level 2 MIA Protocol 10.09 - at 10 September 2021