Minister Schouten of Agriculture, Nature and Food Safety has issued an ultimatum to Dutch slaughterhouses. After new infections with the SARS-CoV-2 virus were also confirmed today at Van Rooi Meat in Helmond, after Vion, the second largest pig slaughterhouse in the Netherlands, she announced today that she will close slaughterhouses that cannot demonstrate enough to do everything to prevent corona infections.
Tomorrow evening the minister will speak to the Collective Meat Consultation (COV) about the trace of contamination that has been found. Schouten: « They have to show that they are taking measures. Then I will consider whether it is safe enough for the inspection staff of the NVWA. »
Schouten is responsible for the health and well-being of the employees of the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority. They supervise daily affairs in slaughterhouses. The cabinet wants to know more about the working and living conditions of the slaughterhouse employees through the SZW inspection. At Van Rooi, three infections were identified among the 43 NVWA veterinarians and assistants of the Quality Assessment Animal Sector (KDS). The finding prompted the testing of Van Rooi’s total workforce.
According to the COV, the closure of meat companies and / or slaughterhouses in connection with corona infections such as in the US is « not the case in the Netherlands ». COV spokesman Richard van der Kruijk explains this to the magazine Pig Business.
Vion and Van Rooi are, with a street length ahead of their competitors, the two largest pig slaughterhouses in the Netherlands. If slaughter stops in the Netherlands, this will have consequences for farmers and their animals. 300,000 pigs are slaughtered every week in the Netherlands. Farmers can keep the slaughtered animals extra for a short time, but not much longer than two weeks, because they become too heavy.
After two weeks, the cessation of the total pig slaughter in the Netherlands would mean that 300,000 pigs cannot find a way out every week and will have to be destroyed on the farm or will have to move abroad as far as capacity is concerned. The minister says he is not concerned about meat shortages in shops when slaughterhouses close. « I also think that public health is really more important than whether you have a piece of meat on your plate tomorrow night. »