Tiger Brands has confirmed it has temporarily closed its Durban Albany bakery as a precautionary measure after “some” staff members tested positive for Covid-19.
An employee who reported for duty was advised to seek medical attention after reporting feeling ill with flu-like symptoms and a test confirmed Covid-19 on Thursday last week.
All employees who had come in contact with the employee were identified and sent for precautionary testing and self-isolation as they were asymptomatic.
Testing was subsequently extended to all staff in the admin building where the first patient worked and results received yesterday confirmed 12 employees were also positive.
The company said in a statement in response to concerns about food safety: “All of these employees work in the administration building and none of these employees work on the production line or are involved in the delivery of product to our customers.
“According to the WHO, NICD and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), there is currently no evidence that food is a likely source or route of transmission of the virus. The World Health Organisation has stated that experiences from previous outbreaks of related Coronaviruses shows that transmission through food consumption did not occur. Nonetheless, good food hygiene – such as washing your hands before handling food, and using clean utensils and cutting boards, is pivotal food safety behaviour and should be taken seriously.
“Our bread manufacturing process is highly automated – from mixing, to baking, to slicing, to sealing into tamper-proof bags and crating. In the event of a positive Covid-19 case, we have developed specific protocols to mitigate the risk of any environmental or surface contamination. This includes isolation and sanitising of the packaged product, all surfaces in the factory and all delivery trucks. As a result of the bakery’s closure, the bread produced in this facility yesterday has not been dispatched to the market.”
The company said it took the decision the decision in line with “best practice protocols” and to ensure the health and safety of its employees.
Alternative arrangements would be made to supply its Durban customer base from the company’s other facilities.
(Compiled by Vhahangwele Nemakonde)