News

February 2021

COVID inquiry praises Cedar Meats

Cedar Meats Australia

Tara Murray

An inquiry into the state government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has praised Cedar Meats for its co-operation during an outbreak at its Brooklyn processing facility last year.

Cedar Meats was the site of the state’s largest COVID-19 outbreak during the first wave of the virus, resulting in 111 cases during April and May.

The public accounts and estimates committee report, which was tabled in State Parliament last week, praised Cedar Meats for co-operating with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) during the outbreak, noting the company was “responsive to all requests for information” by DHHS.

The report also revealed that it took DHHS officers 13 days to request all the information needed to conduct full contact tracing.
Former health minister Jenny Mikakos had earlier advised the committee that the necessary information to allow comprehensive contract tracing of all staff and visitors to Cedar Meats was not provided the DHHS until May 4, the report stated.

The inquiry found that DHHS did not have access to data on the total number of people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 at Cedar Meats until nine days after the site’s first case was identified on April 24, however it said this was because the information wasn’t requested for a number of days.

The report stated that emails provided by Cedar Meats to the inquiry showed that the details of all truck drivers who had been at the facility for more than 30 minutes since April 1 was not requested until May 3, while the contact details of four commonwealth meat inspectors who visited Cedar Meats in April 2020 was not requested until May 5.

DHHS did not request the site’s visitor log for March and April until May 7, according to the report.

On each occasion, Cedar Meats provided the information requested either on the day asked or the following day, the inquiry found.

In a submission to the inquiry, Cedar Meats stated that “at no time did DHHS complain to Cedar Meats about a lack of co-operation, or for any other reason. Rather, to the contrary, DHHS was highly complimentary of Cedar Meats’ responsible and co-operative approach to what was (and remains) a very serious public health issue”.

The inquiry’s findings follow a decision by WorkSafe Victoria in December last year to not take any action against Cedar Meats following an investigation into the company’s handling of the outbreak.

The inquiry also found that the majority of virus transmission during the state’s second wave occurred in five of Victoria’s most disadvantaged areas.

Wyndham, Brimbank, Hume, Whittlesea and Melton had the most active COVID-19 cases as of December 1 and are among the 10 most disadvantaged councils in the state.

The report said the five council areas have a higher than average percentage of insure work.

Originally published here.

February 2021

Cedar Meats Contributes to Parliamentary Inquiries

Cedar Meats recently gave evidence at two Victorian Parliamentary Inquiries into COVID-19.  The Inquiries were set up to understand the State Government’s response to the first outbreak and the pressure points at a systemic level.

Cedar Meats submitted detailed evidence to the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee’s (PAEC) Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic and the Upper House Joint Committee into COVID-19 Contact Tracing System and Testing Regime.

“I was called to give evidence at the Contact Tracing Committee in December and the Committee was very thankful for the detailed and frank account of our organisation’s experience that I outlined” Tony Kairouz General Manager Cedar Meats said.

“From the moment we knew we had our very first case of COVID-19, I have always said we need to work with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and follow what they say.  From this time on, myself, my senior management and my family have done everything we can, not just to protect our own Cedar Meats family, but our community and to share what we know and what we have learnt to contribute to a safer Victoria.”

“I couldn’t be prouder of how we collectively responded to the unprecedented health crisis of COVID-19 during 2020  – not just during the event but financial investment afterwards to keep our people safe and the additional policies and procedures we introduced having learnt what we did in April and early May last year.

“That’s why I was so happy to invest a significant amount of time sharing the Cedar Meats experience and learnings with both Parliamentary Committees.  Our input to the Inquiries is clear from the reports published and tabled in parliament. 

Findings from the PAEC Final Report (page 37-38)

FINDING 20: Cedar Meats were responsive to all requests for information by the Department of Health and Human Services regarding the COVID-19 outbreak that took place at the Brooklyn Cedar Meats facility.

FINDING 21: The Department of Health and Human Services did not request information that would allow comprehensive contact tracing of all staff and visitors to the Cedar Meats facility until 11:53pm on 7 May 2020, 13 days after the first case was identified.

The PAEC report also noted:  At the public hearings on 15 December 2020, the Chief Executive of WorkSafe Victoria advised the Committee that an investigation of Cedar Meats had not found evidence of any breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004.148

“I will continue to represent Cedar Meats if and when asked by Parliament or the Government if it is believed that our experience and knowledge can help keep the community safe or people working in industrial settings safe from health crisis in the future,” Tony said.

Stay Safe.

Read the PAEC Report here The Public Accounts and Estimates Committee has today presented the second report for its inquiry considering the Victorian Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read the Contact Tracing Report here The report into the Inquiry into the Victorian Government’s COVID-19 Contact Tracing System and Testing Regime has been tabled out of session and is now available online. The report can be accessed at our website here: https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/lsic-lc/article/4574

Download the document here.

3 December 2020

Cedar Meats cleared by WorkSafe

Cedar Meats cleared by WorkSafe

Download the document here.

3 August 2020

A statement from Cedar Meats

Cedar Meats will re-commence operating tomorrow, Tuesday 4 August, 2020 after being provided with the all clear from the public health team at the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

All staff at Cedar Meats were tested from COVID-19 between 31 July and 2 August, 2020.  The results show there is no transmission of COVID at Cedar Meats.

Cedar Meats’ Management welcome the announcement by the Government today relating to extra safety measures for abattoirs –specifically the medical level PPE, staggering shifts and breaks, temperature checks on entry etc. 

Cedar Meats already has these measures in place and believes these latest test results show that these measures work.

Cedar Meats will continue to follow the advice of the DHHS and thanks the public health team for its support and advice.

 

Please Stay Safe.

Media Inquiries Only:

Simone Gandur

0404813771.

Download our full media statement here.

31 July 2020

A statement from Cedar Meats

Cedar Meats received a phone call today from the public health team at the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to alert us that one of our staff had tested positive for COVID-19.

The staff member had last worked on site on Wednesday 22 July, 2020.   We have followed DHHS’ advice and had all close contacts of that staff member tested on site today at our premises in Brooklyn. 

We have asked all of our staff to isolate until further notice, as per government guidelines.   Our main priority is our staff’s health and wellbeing.

We will continue to follow the advice of DHHS as we await the results of the testing undertaken today.

The Management of Cedar Meats is thankful for the support and advice of the public health team at DHHS. 

Please Stay Safe.

 

Media Inquiries Only:

Simone Gandur

0404813771.

 

Download our full media statement here.

27 May 2020

Cedar Meats to re open

Cedar Meats will restart all aspects of its operations, including processing, on Thursday 28 May, 2020.

On Wednesday 27 May 2020 staff who have been medically cleared by DHHS to start work attended a return to work information session at Cedar Meats’ Brooklyn site.

“I am really looking forward to having the Cedar family back together. As a management team we have spent the last few weeks working closely with DHHS and WorkSafe to ensure that we are returning in the safest possible manner,” General Manager, Tony Kairouz said.

“Our aim is to provide a safe and healthy environment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The control measures will be regularly updated to reflect changes resulting from Government announcements, directions of the Victorian Chief Health Officer and best practices for the sector,” Tony said.

“Approximately 300 staff will return to work this week. DHHS has provided us with a list of all staff that are cleared to return to work.

“I’d personally like to thank both DHHS and Worksafe for being available to us at all hours and answering the many questions we have had about how we move forward.

“We have done everything possible to provide a safe work environment for our staff. The safety and wellbeing of all people will always be our number one priority and inherent in that is a happy place to work and thriving business that provides security of
income to our people and their families, Tony said.”

Please note that no-one from Cedar Meats is available for interview.

Media inquiries only: 0404 813 771.

Download our full media statement here.

5 May 2020

A message from Cedar Meats General Manager Tony Kairouz

4 May 2020

A message from Cedar Meats General Manager Tony Kairouz

A number of our employees have tested positive for coronavirus in one of our facilities in West Melbourne.

The welfare and safety of our staff, visitors, suppliers and customers is our highest priority.

All workers are self-quarantining and we are working closely with the Victorian health authorities.

All meat processed at our facilities is processed in accordance with Australian Standards for food safety and our customers can be confident that the meat processed at our facilities is safe to eat.

For media enquiries please contact: Simone Gandur 0404 813 771

Download our full media statement here.

Additional Background:

For a media statement from PrimeSafe visit:  https://www.primesafe.vic.gov.au/news/Media-statement

For information on food and coronavirus transmission visit the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) website at:
https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/safety/Pages/Can-COVID-19-be-transmitted-by-food-or-food-packaging.aspx