SINGAPORE: Charoen Pokphand (CP) Foods Singapore said on Monday (May 31) it has stopped importing food products from its Saraburi factory in Thailand, after reports of a COVID-19 outbreak among employees working there.
The company also assured consumers that the items currently for sale in Singapore have been cleared for consumption.
“Before they can be distributed to retailers or made available for online sale to the public, CP Foods’ products need to undergo a clearance process conducted by the Singapore Food Agency,” it said.
The company also noted that the World Health Organization and the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) have said there is a low likelihood of people contracting COVID-19 from food or food packaging.
“Customers can rest assured that the items that they have bought, and the current products carried by all the retailers, are safe for consumption," said CP Foods Singapore.
In response to CNA's queries, the SFA said on Tuesday that Singapore imports processed chicken products from the "affected establishment in Thailand's Saraburi province".
These imports account for less than 1 per cent of Singapore's total chicken imports last year, it added.
"Current state of knowledge across scientific communities and public health authorities worldwide is that the COVID-19 virus is not transmitted to humans via food. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness and is transmitted human-to-human via respiratory droplets and contact," said SFA.
"Contact with food or food packaging is no different from contact with other non-food packaging and the environment," it added.
"An infected person can contaminate the food or food packaging but the risk of infections of COVID-19 due to contact with contaminated surfaces of food and food packaging is very low and can be further reduced through good public and personal hygiene practices."
FACTORY TAKES MEASURES AFTER OUTBREAK
The Saraburi factory is one of the 19 poultry processing factories that CP Foods Singapore imports its stocks from.
On Sunday, it was reported that the Saraburi factory in Bangkok has been closed after 245 workers tested positive for COVID-19.
Following the outbreak, CP Foods said it immediately closed the areas where those who had tested positive worked. These areas will remain closed for five days, it said in a statement on Monday.
Efforts have been made to get the affected areas cleaned and disinfected in line with health measures to ensure no contamination takes place in the workplace.
“A lab test will be required to confirm that the areas are disease-free,” it said, adding that only workers who have tested negative for COVID-19 will be allowed to return to work.
The remaining 18 plants in Thailand will remain operational with measures in place.
These include requiring workers to change uniforms, wearing masks which fully cover their mouths and noses and following social distancing measures.
The company said it has also conducted regular random testing for COVID-19 on its chicken products and no contamination has been reported.
All employees are also being tested for COVID-19, CP Foods said.
“Employees in high-risk groups are put under state quarantine for 14 days, while those in low-risk groups are required to place themselves under self-quarantine for the same period,” it added.
The company said it has also provided a “seal and bubble” area for workers who are not infected and relocated chicken production to other plants to prevent disruptions to business and customers.