Italian poultry Association experience in facing Coronavirus-2020-03-24

See here valuable information shared by the SA Poultry Association and provided by the Secretary General of the International Poultry Council:

Dear Members of the IPC,

Since the Coronavirus threat is spreading all around the world and everyone of you might have to face it both from a personal and professional point of view, I’d like to share with you a short report on the situation in Italy that Unaitalia kindly agreed to share with me. I sincerely hope you won’t have any issue, but I strongly believe that in this situation is one of the IPCs’ tasks to share experience and make them available for everyone who may need.

The current situation of Coronavirus in Italy has imposed serious and important actions also from the poultry sector.
Like all others livestock sectors, the poultry one plays a fundamental role at this particular moment.
In fact, to avoid increasing the sense of anxiety and precariousness in the population, it is essential that the supply of food products is not slowed down or interrupted, otherwise the consequences would be very serious.

In order for this to happen, the first and most important mission of Companies is to ensure safety of their workers, firstly because public health comes first, and then because a Covid-19 positive employee in a production plant would inevitably lead to closure of the plant itself with consequent interruption of production.
It is also important to understand that the situation of the coronavirus is constantly evolving, so it is likely that each Country will be facing different situations and, in any case, changing day by day.

In this situation, a continuous and transparent discussion with the Competent Authorities and with the Workers’ Associations is fundamental.A task force is in place made by all Italian livestock associations (feed, pig, red meat and dairy) to exchange information and share actions towards institutions.

The Italian situation is particularly difficult as over 75% of the total poultry meat production occurs in northern Regions, specifically in the three Regions most affected by the epidemic (Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia-Romagna).
As regards primary production, at the moment in Italy there are no particular critical issues. This is because the epidemic officially began in late January and the first major restrictive measures were taken in the second half of February. The cycles currently farmed were therefore housed when there were still no problems. There are still no critical issues in the placement of new groups.
As for production plants, there have been some situation in which a positive employee has been identified in a plant, these situation are managed together with Public Health Authorities in order to guarantee employees’ safety first and to avoid any interruption in the chain. Once again, cooperation and constant dialogue amongst Ministries, Workers’ Associations and Livestock Sectors’ Associations are essential to foreseen these problems.
However, these measures caused a sharp slowdown in the productivity. The more time it takes for staff to change, the greater distance between people in the lines has led to a slowdown of the production chains.
The memorandum of understanding that currently applies in Italy to all Companies that continue their business provides for:
– Obligation to inform employees of the behavior to be followed both in the case of Coronavirus-like symptoms and in the case of regular access to plants;
Regulatory rules for access to plants for both staff and suppliers;
– Obligations to clean and sanitize the premises;
– Indication of personal hygiene;
– Obligation to use the Personal Protective Equipment and their rules of use;
– Rules for the management of common areas (snack areas, internal restaurants. Many companies have voluntarily eliminated these areas);
– Company reorganization (closure of non-essential departments, smart working, worker shifts remodulation);
– Management of employee entry and exit (avoid gatherings);
– Management of a positivity in the company.

The Italian poultry Companies, also, in light of the production difficulties due to the slowdown of the production chains, in order not to be found unprepared in the event of positivity in the plant with consequent closure of the same and clogging of production (implications also in terms of animal welfare for animals at farm level), are considering emergency plans that provide for mutual aid for slaughter.
The evolution of the market in the period of crisis has led to further difficulties for companies. At first there was a massive purchase of fresh meat due to the fear of meat shortage. Subsequently, consumers moved towards the purchase of longer-lasting products such as canned meat and pre-cooked products. In addition, the closure of restaurants and bars has excluded access to that market for all Companies.

Thanks to Unaitalia for sharing these information with IPC, I remain at your disposal for any further need.

I wish you all the best

Nicolò Cinotti

Secretary General

International Poultry Council