COVID-19 outbreak identified at Vancouver food processing plant

VANCOUVER Coastal Health (VCH) Public Health has declared an outbreak of COVID-19 among staff working at United Poultry Company Ltd., a chicken processing plant located at 534 East Cordova Street, Vancouver.

To date, 28 employees of the facility have tested positive for COVID-19. All employees at the facility are being managed as either COVID-19 cases or close contacts and have been told to self-isolate.

VCH Public Health first became aware of a potential outbreak after receiving a positive lab test on Sunday, April 19 from an employee of the plant. In the course of its investigation, a VCH Public Health team attended the processing plant on Monday, April 20 and tested 71 staff who were physically present, resulting in 27 additional positive cases of COVID-19, which brings the total to 28 cases to date. VCH closed the plant the same day.

According to Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), there is no evidence to suggest that food is a likely source or route of transmission for the virus. At this time, there have been no reported cases of food or food packaging being associated with the transmission of COVID-19. Therefore, no recall of chicken products distributed from this plant is required.

All Canadians should continue to follow good hygiene practices during food handling and preparation, such as:

· Washing hands with soap and water

· Regularly cleaning and disinfecting surfaces

· Cooking meat thoroughly

· Avoiding potential cross-contamination between cooked and uncooked foods.

The CFIA delivers ongoing inspections on-site to verify the operator’s compliance with the Safe Food for Canadians Act and Regulations. The CFIA also requires that establishments have COVID-19 prevention documentation which clearly articulate mitigation measures and their response to a suspected and confirmed case of COVID-19 to support public health requirements and guidance.