The largest supplier of chicken to UK supermarkets, which owns a factory in Derby, could be set to face a probe from a regulator after an investigation allegedly uncovered a series of food safety rule breaches.
2 Sisters Food Group, which owns a plant in Shaftesbury Street South, Derby, has been accused of tampering with food safety records following an investigation by ITV news and the Guardian.
The investigation centred on a poultry processing plant belonging to 2 Sisters at West Bromwich, in the West Midlands.
An undercover reporter working at the site claimed to witness workers tampering with slaughter dates to artificially extend the meat’s shelf life.
The investigation also claimed that meat of different ages was also mixed together and codes on crates of meat were changed. Changing the codes means the meat would be untraceable in the event of an outbreak of food poisoning.
The reporter said they also saw employees at the multi-million pound business returning potentially contaminated chicken to the production line after it had fallen on the floor, ITV and the Guardian said.
2 Sisters supplies to supermarkets across the UK including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Aldi, Lidl and Marks and Spencer.
ITV News and the Guardian said in a statement that more than 20 workers had confirmed the unhygienic practices took place while some said they will no longer eat chicken from supermarkets.
2 Sisters is the largest supplier of poultry to UK supermarkets (Image: Professional Images)
Some workers also claimed the chicken that supermarkets reject is sometimes repackaged at the factory and sent out again.
Many of the supermarkets which 2 Sisters supplies to have issued statements saying they were investigating the allegations.
Meanwhile, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has urged ITN and the Guardian to pass on its findings so it too can investigate.
The FSA told the Press Association: “The Food Standards Agency takes any allegations of inaccurate labelling and breaches in hygiene regulations very seriously.
“We urge ITN and the Guardian to share the full details with us, such as the footage taken and witness interview transcripts, so that we can investigate thoroughly and promptly.
“This particular cutting plant is regularly audited by the FSA and they are also subject to unannounced inspections.”
2 Sisters was founded in 1993 by Ranjit Singh Boparan and now employs 23,000 staff, and although it has diversified, the bulk of the group’s income still comes from processing poultry.
The company established a presence in Derby after taking over the former S&A Foods ready meals factory, which closed after the firm lost a major contract with Asda.
2 Sisters has a large factory in Derby employing hundreds of people
Today, the plant employs hundreds of people and is part of 2 Sisters’ “value added poultry” division, making a range of poultry-based products. It is understood that the Derby factory is not under investigation.
In a statement, 2 Sisters Food Group said: “We have been made aware of several broad allegations made by The Guardian/ITV in relation to inappropriate procedures, food safety and hygiene issues at two of our poultry processing facilities.
“We view these allegations extremely seriously. However, we have not been given the time or the detailed evidence to conduct any thorough investigations to establish the facts, which makes a fulsome response very difficult.
“What we can confirm is that hygiene and food safety will always be the number one priority within the business, and they remain at its very core.
“We also successfully operate in one of the most tightly-controlled and highly regulated food sectors in the world.
“We are subject to multiple and frequent unannounced audits from the Food Standards Agency, British Retail Consortium, Red Tractor, independent auditors as well as our customers.
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“By example, our facility in the West Midlands under investigation received nine audits (five unannounced) in the months of July and August alone.
“However, we are never complacent and remain committed to continually improving our processes and procedures.
“If, on presentation of further evidence, it comes to light any verifiable transgressions have been made at any of our sites, we will leave no stone unturned in investigating and remedying the situation immediately.”
Source: Derby Telegraph