Crisps giant Walkers has stressed it will not suffer any supply issues after a rise in coronavirus cases at its Leicester factory.
Twenty-eight staff tested positive for the virus in June, PepsiCo confirmed this week. However, it maintained there would be no impact on supply. Affected staff are currently self-isolating at home on full pay.
Unlike recent outbreaks of coronavirus at food manufacturers such as 2 Sisters Food Group’s factory at Llangefni on Anglesey, which had reported 216 cases as The Grocer went to press, or Rowan Foods’ Wrexham plant, which confirmed 237 cases, Walkers’ facility is not chilled and much of its production is automated.
A spokesman told The Grocer it was a “very different situation” and “people haven’t been coming in and wandering about the place ill”.
The factory has introduced new cleaning regimes, social distancing, handwashing and temperature checks for employees since the onset of the crisis.
Walkers has also kicked off its own ‘track & trace’ scheme, investigating the movements of any individual with coronavirus and their interactions with colleagues – a process that is followed up with deep cleans.
The rise in cases reflected “the situation in the local community” and coincided with “the rollout and uptake of testing”, said the spokesman.
“We are in regular contact with the local health authorities and government bodies and are reassured that we have all the correct measures in place to protect our employees.”
It comes as Leicester has been forced back into a strict lockdown after a major surge in coronavirus cases. Over the week to 21 June, it reported 140.2 cases of coronavirus per 100,000 people, according to Public Health England figures.