The Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association (NIFDA) has published guidance for food manufacturers on keeping employees safe while continuing to feed the nation.
Building on advice from Public Health England, and practical experience from local food companies, the document identifies practical ways in which manufacturers can implement social distancing and other measures as far as is reasonably possible.
It comes after workers at three of Northern Ireland's biggest agri-food processing sites walked out over concerns businesses were not taking enough measures to protect them from Covid-19.
Workers at Linden Foods refused to start their shifts on Friday (March 27) while similar action was taken at ABP Lurgan and Moy Park on Wednesday (March 25).
Michael Bell, executive director, Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association (NIFDA) said: “Like other key workers such as those in the health service or delivery services, our workers in the food and drink industry are carrying out essential work, feeding the nation in these extraordinary and unprecedented times.
"They deserve the full support of the industry and society as a whole, and the priority of employers is to keep their workers safe.
Food processing facilities already operate to the highest hygiene and food safety standards.
"In response to Covid-19, companies are going much further, by introducing measures such as reducing numbers of workers on-site at any one time, re-designing processes and adjusting workflows and social distancing where reasonably possible.
“The guidance published today by NIFDA is the first of its kind at an industry level. [It] takes official Government advice and building on it to practically identify reasonable ways in which these measures can be implemented.
"It is a living document and will be updated to reflect contemporary Government advice as the situation evolves.”