Frequently Asked Questions
Are your products safe to consume?
There is no known link between COVID-19 and Food Safety. Official guidance on this subject is provided by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland and the European Food Safety Authority on their relevant websites.
All Carroll’s products are considered safe to eat once they have been stored in accordance with the instructions on the packaging and by the use by date.
Please be assured that we have rigorously implemented COVID-19 prevention controls in our facility and this has been inspected by relevant government authorities. Our facility is Bord Bia approved and BRC accredited, and has always operated to the highest food safety standards, which we pride ourselves on.
When did Carroll’s have their first case of Covid-19?
The very first case we recorded among our workforce arose where a colleague consulted their GP and subsequently tested positive on 31st July. Acting responsibly and proactively, they told us about their symptoms immediately when they first noticed them and had self-isolated. In-line with our advance contingency planning, we immediately arranged to test all colleagues using an independent laboratory service and we will continue our testing on a rolling basis.
Through the testing we conducted and completed last week, a total of 9 employees to date have had positive tests for COVID-19 and are self-isolating. Colleagues who were working closely alongside the 9 also went in to self-isolation. When the three midland counties of Kildare, Laois and Offaly went in to lockdown, 500+ individuals in Offaly had tested positive for the virus, only 9 of those 500+ are employees of Carroll’s.
We are working closely and co-operatively with the HSE on all of these measures, and will continue to do so.
What safety measures has Carroll’s put in place?
We have been incredibly proactive in ensuring the safety of colleagues and the wider community. All colleagues who were able to work from home did so from the 11th of March, before the government called for businesses to implement this new way of working. In relation to production staff, the following has been implemented:
• Staff have been segregated into separate production pods and teams, in order to limit any potential for positive tests
• Staggered working hours to reduce the number of staff required on site at any given time
• Break times are staggered to reduce engagement and crowding in common spaces
• Additional canteen facilities have been created for separation and social distancing
• Additional PPE has been introduced for staff such as face masks and face shields
• Regular deep cleaning of our facilities in addition to all other ongoing, comprehensive hygiene, health and safety practices
• Additional hand sanitation facilities introduced
• Multi-lingual education campaign for colleagues who speak another EU language
• Established a multi-disciplinary COVID-19 team to continue to research and review best practices
• Development of our company app to allow colleagues to test and declare their health status before coming to work
All colleagues have been issued with an electronic thermometer and check-in on an app before they can come on-site, to ensure no symptoms.
Have employees been tested?
Having tested all of our colleagues independently following from an initial positive test on the 31st of July, we are also working with the HSE’s local testing team as part of the HSE’s containment measures. As a precautionary measure, the HSE further tested 212 colleagues in a single day and all tests were 100% negative. We therefore carried out two major testing programmes in one week. The remaining workforce of Carroll’s are not based at our Tullamore facility, or have not attended the facility since colleagues began working from home, resulting in no requirement for testing. Only employees who have tested negative will be allowed back to our Tullamore facility. We are grateful to the HSE for their ongoing assistance and we thank our staff for turning out so comprehensively for testing.
Will staff be tested again?
The health, safety and wellbeing of all our people is an absolute priority for us at all times. We welcome proposals by the Minister for Agriculture for constantly and regularly recurring testing programme for the meat sector and we will participate fully in any such initiatives. This will further help us all to monitor, suppress and prevent the virus, keep people safe and protect employment while we provide an essential service.
Management and all staff are engaged on a constant basis in dealing with this matter. Our own specific situation has not escalated further at this present time, however this also means we are doubling and redoubling our efforts to stop any spread of the virus and staying constantly vigilant. We are keeping all of this under constant review on an hourly and day by day basis. Given the nature of COVID-19, we are acutely aware that a positive result can occur at any time as we have a large workforce, but we have shown that the strong and rigorous procedures we have in place do work to contain the spread, and this will allow us to continue working in a safe manner in the event of positive results being found.
Why has Carroll’s remained open and operating?
Carroll’s has currently suspended operations and is working in conjunction with the HSE to establish reopening timelines and when will be best to reopen. This will be communicated once we know when. A small number of essential maintenance workers are on site as they are required to maintain the facility. Less than 3% of our workforce have tested positive for the virus and are self-isolating. Due to the small number of cases and contact tracing being carried out, this allowed our factory to continue operating with the staff members who had all tested negative. Carroll’s account for 9 of the 500+ cases that were identified in Offaly. It is not feasible for essential food supply services, such as Carroll’s to close for each and every positive test identified, this is why measures have been put in place to segregate staff and ensure our business, and similar businesses can continue operating within guidelines and to the highest safety standard.
Why can Carroll’s operate during lockdown?
Food production is an essential service, essential services are not locked down. We supply goods to retailers, shops, and other businesses, which ultimately end up in our customers’ fridges nationwide. We all know how important food availability is and has been during this pandemic, and our colleagues have worked incredibly hard over these months to ensure your local shops have remained well stocked with our produce.
Are your production staff still being paid?
Our colleagues continue to be paid as normal. We are very grateful to our staff for their excellent dedication and commitment and for the support and encouragement of our communities.
Are your staff paid the Irish minimum wage?
We pay above Irish minimum wage to all our staff, and the rate of pay increases with length of tenure and also responsibility where we also provide training and inward career development opportunities. We recruit all our own staff ourselves, no third party agency is used to do this. As we are an Irish company, based in Ireland, we adhere to all Irish employment laws.
How are the staff who have tested positive?
We are grateful for the fact that our colleagues who tested positive have shown mild symptoms. We are in regular contact with them to ensure they have everything they need and are being well looked after, and will continue to do this. They are safely self-isolating in-line with procedure and public health guidelines.
How will you ensure safety when you reopen?
From the beginning of the pandemic, we implemented procedures to segregate teams from one another to ensure we could continue operating if any of our colleagues in production tested positive for the virus. This allowed us to contain the virus to 9 people, with no further colleagues testing positive, and all test results coming back negative. We are currently working with the HSE towards a safe reopening. Following government and international advice, our carefully designed procedures have worked in limiting and containing the spread to a small number of our colleagues.
We will continue to look outwards for learnings from facilities around the world on how to best mitigate Coronavirus spread, and as ever we will look to improve further. As should be expected, we will continue to adhere to HSA and HSE guidelines to ensure we protect our valued colleagues and the wider community as we work in preparing food products for our customers.
Only colleagues who have tested negative for the virus will be allowed access to our Tullamore facility. If any colleagues test positive for the virus at a later date, the full team they work with will go into quarantine. As all teams are segregated, this will allow our facility to continue operating as only the team or teams affected would need to isolate. As an essential service providing food to the nation, we will continue to ensure we do everything in our power to continue operating in the safest possible manner throughout this pandemic and to keep shelves stocked nationwide.