A leading Co Down-based food producer has warned of imminent shortages if the Government enforces the same isolation measures on food production workers and businesses.
Denis Lynn, the owner of Finnebrogue Artisan, which produces meat products as well as vegetarian and vegan products, has also issued a call for hospitality sector staff who have been laid off as a result of the coronavirus pandemic to help with the strain on food production lines.
He said: "It is vital the Government steps in immediately to make food manufacturing a protected industry to ensure we are able to feed the people of Britain during this crisis.
"Nobody supports stringent and strict isolation measures more than me. They are long overdue.
"But the Government should not enforce these rules for all food production workers or serious food shortages will become a very grave reality."
Mr Lynn appealed to all hospitality workers who had been made redundant as a result of the crisis to turn to food production businesses.
"We will need you to plug the gaps that are already appearing on our production lines.
"We need you to help us feed the nation."
Mr Lynn said that Boris Johnson's announcement that anyone who lives with someone suffering coronavirus symptoms should self-isolate for 14 days is a welcome measure.
However, without further action to support the food industry it threatens "to wreak havoc on our capacity to make the food the country needs".
He called for the Government to step in immediately to make food manufacturing a protected industry to ensure there is enough food for everyone.
"We are currently meeting the increased supermarket demand brought about by millions of people now eating all three meals a day in the home, but we are facing an imminent labour shortage that will grind production lines to a halt unless radical action is taken quickly," he added.
Finnebrogue Artisan is a leading food businesses.
It employs 640 people in Co Down, with turnover of around £115m a year.
Mr Lynn said the Government must help to facilitate the current food production lines to ensure supply.
He said: "It must announce a package of economic measures that will enable successful food businesses like ours to carry out a vital national service in these difficult times while supporting the many hundreds and thousands of food operatives who will be off work and for whom long-term statutory sick pay will cause very real economic hardship."