Dan’s plan to close meat processors will put food security at risk

The Andrews Labor Government’s failure to get coronavirus outbreaks at meatworks under control is threatening the supply of food to supermarket shelves.

High demand for meat through the COVID-19 crisis has seen supermarket shelves stripped bare, but the Andrews Labor Government has flagged it will consider closing meat processors as part of its pandemic response.

Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh said the Premier must guarantee the Government will work with all sectors in the food supply chain to safely stay open.

“Our farmers are producing enough food to keep our supermarket shelves fully stocked and processors are implementing plans to keep workers safe, but if the Andrews Labor Government closes down parts of the supply chain there will be food shortages,” Mr Walsh said.

“The virus has spread like wildfire through meat processors since the first outbreaks at Cedar Meats in early May, but instead of working with businesses to safeguard our food supply, Daniel Andrews will shut them down.

“Abattoirs are a critical link in our food supply chain, but there’s a shocking lack of support from the Andrews Labor Government to make sure they can safely keep their doors open.”

There are 11 meat processing sites that have been linked to outbreaks so far, recording 315 positive cases between them.

Mr Walsh said reports of delays in contact tracing following the most recent outbreak at a meatworks in Colac shows the Andrews Labor Government still hasn’t learned from its mistakes in Melbourne.

“Cedar Meats was the first cluster that got out of control because the government didn’t act quickly enough, but still we see this happening again and again,” Mr Walsh said.

“Daniel Andrews must guarantee he will not stop businesses in Victoria’s food supply chain from doing their critical work keeping supermarket shelves fully stocked.

“Victorians can’t afford the pressure of food shortages as we continue to deal with the pressures of this pandemic.”

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