North Oxfordshire MP and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Farming, Fisheries and Food, Victoria Prentis, paid a virtual visit to apetito’s Trowbridge site to see its lateral flow testing in action.
apetito was one of the first businesses in the UK to work with Defra and the Department of Health & Social Care in 2020 to roll out asymptomatic testing for people unable to work from home – initially as a pilot scheme, prior to adopting lateral flow testing for around 500 of its workers across its Trowbridge (food production), and Portbury (distribution), sites.
During her visit, Ms Prentis spoke with Lee Sheppard, apetito’s Director of Corporate Affairs and Policy, on the success of the testing and the ease with which it had been implemented.
She also talked to members of apetito’s team who work on the production lines and who expressed strong support for the testing saying that it gave them reassurance and confidence of safety at work and protection for their families at home.
Ms Prentis said: “Rapid workplace testing is vital in driving down COVID infections across the country, and tackling outbreaks at source. We need our workplaces to be as safe as possible for all staff.
“apetito has been part of the government’s workplace testing pilot since December 2020 and the programme has had a hugely positive impact.
“All eligible employers should register for the government’s current offer of free rapid workplace test kits before 31 March, to help protect their colleagues and customers.”
Lee added: “We were able to show the Minister that lateral flow testing has been of real benefit in giving our team reassurance and confidence, and in the small instances where testing proved positive, enabled those individuals and any contacts to self-isolate immediately. It has also offered reassurance to our customers and put resilience into the business.
“Together with the Minister, we would encourage other businesses who may be considering lateral flow testing to follow suit. Set-up was both straightforward and cost effective and Defra and the Dept of Health & Social Care gave us every support possible to get this in place quickly and efficiently. We managed to get testing mobilised in just under seven days.
“apetito has a critical role in providing food during the COVID-19 pandemic. We serve some of the most vulnerable and ‘at risk’ in hospitals, care homes, nurseries, and schools. And ‘at home’ through Meals on Wheels and Wiltshire Farm Foods.
“Ensuring our front-line services are able to continue to operate is therefore crucial and it remains of the utmost importance to us that we are doing everything possible to support our team’s safety whilst at work.”