Fry Group Foods, the South African meat-free manufacturer, has temporarily closed its facility after a manager contracted the Covid-19 virus.

The Durban-based company, which makes plant-based burgers and sausages amongst other products, confirmed in a statement sent to just-food that its Westmead premises will be locking its doors.

Managing director Caroline Garnett said that after receiving the news of the manager’s positive status, it has asked all employees who came into direct contact with the manager to self quarantine for 14 days. 

“Our entire facility has been disinfected by an independent contracted cleaning company. We are also working closely with the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) to ensure that all the necessary processes have been followed,” she said.

Garnett said the manager concerned is the only person who has tested positive for Covid-19 and he is not involved with food production. 

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“We have taken the added precautionary measure of temporarily closing our facility to ensure the safety of our staff. Over this time we will revisit our Covid-19 risk assessment to ensure that we have adequately addressed all associated risks,” she said.

Garnett was keen to point out the company takes food safety seriously.

“Even before the onset of the pandemic, [we] followed stringent food hygiene procedures throughout our facility as part of our high levels of quality control,” she said.

“Our food safety procedures include, amongst others, all production staff showering before entry into our factory, the daily issuing of freshly washed uniforms to all production staff members, a stringent hand washing procedure, the sanitising of hands and surfaces throughout the production shift, as well as the compulsory wearing of face masks, hair nets and beard snoods where applicable. All machines are disinfected every four hours and once a week our entire facility is disinfected.”

She said additional controls have been introduced since the pandemic emerged. It now has an infra-red thermometer at the entrance to its facility to identify those with temperatures and has instigated social distancing measures.

She said the company is confident the site will be up and running again soon.