High Liner Foods has temporarily suspended all operations at its frozen fish processing plant in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA, after confirming positive cases of novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) contraction among workers. The Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada-headquartered company is activating its Covid-19 response plan including deep cleaning, contact tracing and risk assessment.
“Our priority is the health and safety of our employees who are doing essential work supplying food to families across North America,” said President and CEO Rod Hepponstall. “We are maximizing all available resources to safeguard our people and ensure a steady supply of frozen seafood to meet the needs of retailers and consumers across North America during this unprecedented time.”
High Liner Foods aims to resume operations in Portsmouth as soon as it is responsible to do so. In order to minimize impact to supply lines, the company has already started redirecting a portion of production at the closed facility to its plants in Lunenburg and Newport News, Virginia.
The company has pointed out that government experts in Canada and the United States have made it clear that Covid-19 is not a foodborne illness and there is currently no evidence that food is a likely source or route of transmission of respiratory disease that has originated in Wuhan, China in last 2019. It has since spread to more than 180 countries around the world, infecting more than 2.4 million people and killing almost 165,000 at last count.
Across all of its production facilities, High Liner is adhering to guidance issued by all government agencies including the US Centre for Disease Control and Health Canada. The company is also collaborating with the food regulators and local public health authorities and supplementing its normal health and safety procedures with enhanced daily sanitation in its plants and use of standard personal protective equipment.