Outbreak hits factory that makes Mr Kipling cakes and pies

Six workers have tested positive for coronavirus at a factory that bakes cakes and pies for the Mr Kipling brand. 

Premier Foods has confirmed an outbreak among employees at its Newcastle Road site in Stoke-on-Trent.

Those affected are currently self-isolating at home and the factory remains open, a spokeswoman said. 

It comes as infections rise in the Staffordshire city, leading to concerns it could be the next place to go into a local lockdown. 

The Newcastle Road factory bakes millions of Mr Kipling products every year. Premier Foods say an internal investigation has found the six workers, who represent 0.9 per cent of the site’s workforce, were infected in the community, rather than at the factory.

Stoke City Council has previously revealed three of the affected workers are ‘socially linked’. Four live in Newcastle-under-Lyme and two in Stoke-on-Trent.

As a precaution, a number of other workers who came into close contact with the infected employees, such as through car sharing, are also self-isolating at home.

The Premier Foods spokeswoman said: ‘The health and wellbeing of our colleagues is our absolute priority, and we have done everything we can throughout the pandemic to protect our teams.

‘We have seen a very small number of colleagues test positive for Covid-19 at our Stoke factory, reflective of an increase in cases in the wider Stoke-on-Trent/Newcastle-under-Lyme area.

‘As a result, we have introduced further protective measures on site, in addition to our already stringent hygiene and safety procedures.

‘We have been in contact with our local health protection team and are confident that we have taken all the necessary steps to protect our teams. We are monitoring the situation closely and will continue to keep local authorities updated.’

Staff who work in close proximity to others have been offered head visors and ‘social distancing marshalls’ have been introduced as part of the new measures. 

Abi Brown, leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council, said the authority was satisfied the steps taken by Premier Foods were enough for the site to remain open. 

Other factories that have seen outbreaks have been shut down for several weeks to stem the risk of infection spreading. 

Ms Brown said: ‘We have been working closely with all the food manufacturing businesses in the city, including Premier Foods, throughout the pandemic.

‘Our public health team has been impressed with the measures introduced by Premier Foods, both before and since this issue. It is actually thanks to their processes that this issue came to light so quickly.

‘We have been able to see that these infections did not take place in the factory itself, but in the community.’

Earlier this week it was revealed that the infection rate in Stoke had doubled in a week.

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