Vion: call for repeated preventive testing of all employees

Date: 27-05-2020

Vion to take additional measures to curb spread of corona

 

Boxtel, 25 May 2020 – Vion Food Group is taking immediate additional measures to contain corona infection within its companies. In addition, Vion calls on the Municipal Health Service/Regional Medical Assistance Organisation (GGD GHOR) and the Safety Council to conduct repeated preventive tests of all employees of its meat companies. That way, the company can continue to supply to the Netherlands. Vion will provide all available data on compliance and supervision as regulated by its own corona protocols.

We will explicitly review all measures taken so far and implement improvements where possible. We will do this in close consultation with the Municipal Health Service. We ourselves will take the following additional measures:

  • Risk analysis: we will wait for the comprehensive results from the Groenlo Municipal Health Service to urgently carry out an additional risk analysis, which may lead to further tightening of the rules.
  • Workplace: we will extend our working hours even further to reduce the chances of contact between groups of employees even more. We had already implemented this, but are now doing it more widely.
  • Transport: these rules will be changed in the sense that larger buses will be made available in locations where problems exist in complying with limits for the number of passengers.
  • Home situation: a dedicated Vion team will make an analysis of the living conditions of some of our employees. This will mainly concern the communal living spaces. If we observe problems, we will protect the employees in question and quarantine them at home before providing replacement accommodation. We expect this to make a significant contribution to curbing infection.
  • Personal hygiene: where necessary, employees in specific workplaces who work closely together will be required to wear face masks.

Our objective is to take measures that are safe and effective for our employees. And that make it possible to continue the meat supply in the Netherlands so that there will be no empty shelves in the shops. And finally: we will make every effort to also find the last employees of the Groenlo location and have them respond to requests from the Municipal Health Service.

Nothing to hide

Ronald Lotgerink, CEO Vion Food Group: “We’ve got nothing to hide. We contribute to the food supply in the Netherlands. As a ‘vital industry’, our sector has been asked by the cabinet to continue working during the corona crisis. Our people are fully committed to this every day, complying with the regulations of the authorities, such as the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), the Municipal Health Service (GGD) and the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA). Inspections confirm that we meet those required measures. Compliance with and supervision of our corona protocols in all our companies show the same. We will make these public. Nevertheless, a significant number of our employees are infected – without having any health problems. And nobody knows why. Yet we have decided to take additional measures pending the investigation.”

Repeated testing

“Following this situation in Groenlo, we call on the Municipal Health Service and NVWA to conduct preventive tests for corona of all our employees of our meat companies and other companies in the industry. Not just once, but repeatedly, so that it is easier to determine who is infected and who is not; to see how the virus develops; to home quarantine infected employees immediately; and to monitor whether the measures have sufficient effect. It is important in this respect that, if we are to monitor large groups of healthy people, we first reach agreement on what we will do with the outcomes of the tests. We believe it would be appropriate, in the interest of the meat supply in our country, to keep healthy people at work. Except in Groenlo, no large groups of people without health complaints have been monitored in the Netherlands so far. This is something we as an industry can accomplish, but it is important to handle the results of such an investigation carefully,” says Ronald Lotgerink, CEO Vion Food Group.

Around the table

Ronald Lotgerink, CEO Vion Food Group, continues: “We are just as surprised as everyone else. We think it is undesirable that employees cannot be reached or fail to respond. And we will do everything we can to reach out to these employees and hold them responsible. In this corona crisis, we must act together. So we must sit around the table and discuss this. Central and local authorities must be able to trust that we are doing everything in our power to do what is best for our employees, for the people around them, and for the meat supply in the Netherlands. We can be called to account for that. We are on the same side. In mutual consultation, we can learn a lot more about the virus, adapt quickly, and act appropriately.”

Vion

Vion Holding N.V. is an international food company with production locations in the Netherlands and Germany and with sales support offices in thirteen countries worldwide. In 2019, Vion had a turnover of €5.1 billion, employing 12,000 staff.