NHS bosses have launched a probe after nearly 80 positive coronavirus cases were found at a Scots meat plant.

Macintosh Donald, based in Porthlethen, Aberdeenshire, has reported 79 workers have been hit by the potentially deadly bug.

An incident management team of factory bosses, NHS chiefs and environmental health and Food Standards Scotland staff has been set up.

Meat processing plants across Scotland have been hit by outbreaks of coronavirus in recent months.

There has been an outbreak at Macintosh Donald

NHS Grampian had offered tests to all employees with some 200 taking up the offer.

A spokeswoman for the health board said: "We are investigating 78 detected cases of COVID-19 associated with the Kepak McIntosh Donald plant in Portlethen.

"An Incident Management Team, with representation from the NHS, the plant, environmental health and Food Standards Scotland, has been set up.

"Following a small number of confirmed cases associated with the plant - and after discussions with management there - we offered asymptomatic testing to all employees on Monday.

"More than 200 staff took up the offer. These results are now being processed and account for much of the increase in our case numbers in Grampian.

"They are not the only reason behind today's increase in case numbers - we continue to see other clusters of cases and the virus continues to circulate in the community.

"We are working closely with Kepak McIntosh Donald and a number of other partners to ensure all the correct control measures are in place.

"There is no evidence at this time to suggest this cluster has spread beyond those working at the plant.

"Given the large number of people who were tested it is likely further cases could be confirmed in the coming days.

"As noted above, COVID-19 is circulating in the community. Everyone should remember the FACTS guidance and play their part in limiting it's spread as much as possible."

A spokesman for the plant told the P&J : “Kepak continues to work diligently to prioritise the safety and wellbeing of staff and suppliers throughout the current pandemic by implementing a wide range of Covid-19 protective measures and protocols at each of our sites across the UK and Ireland.

“These stringent protocols are constantly reviewed and updated to ensure compatibility and adherence with the latest measures put in place by the UK and Irish Governments, while our local site teams remain fully engaged with the relevant health authorities.

"As the Covid-19 situation continues to evolve and we learn more about the virus, we have updated our procedures and transferred the learnings across the business.

“We have supported our employees with regular updates, training and guidance, and activated screening solutions to ensure our teams are safe in work at all times.”Meat processing is designated as an essential service by the UK and Irish Governments in order to provide continuity of food supply during this pandemic.

“Continued operations in our plants is only possible due to the commitment and efforts of our staff, our suppliers, hauliers and service providers.”