An investigation run by the Guardian and ITV News found a supplier of chicken to Britain’s supermarkets had been altering food-safety records.
The investigation involved placing undercover reporters in a 2 Sisters Food Group factory in West Bromwich for 12 days. Their allegations were published on September 28 and captured evidence of:
• Workers altering the date in which the bird was slaughtered.
• Workers altering the location in which the bird was slaughtered, potentially hampering authorities tracking the origins of the meat.
• Workers picking up fallen that had fallen onto the floor and returning it to the production line.
• Returned meat being repackaged and sent out once more to retailers.
• Workers dumping chicken slaughtered on a variety of dates into the same batch.
2 Sisters Food Group are suppliers for Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Mark & Spencer, Aldi among others and it is estimated by The Guardian that a third of all chicken products eaten in Britain have been supplied by the company.
The Food Standards agency issued a statement on September 29, the day after the allegations came to light, stating they had sent inspectors into the 2 Sisters Food Group plant on September 28 in response to the evidence presented by the two news organisations. The inspectors had found ‘no evidence of breaches’ but their investigation would continue.
Heather Hancock, Chairman of the FSA said: “It is the responsibility of a food business to ensure that the food it sells is safe and what it says it is. We take any allegations of inaccurate labelling and breaches in hygiene regulations very seriously.
“Should we find any evidence of any risk to public health, any products on the market which we believe to be a cause of concern will be urgently removed from sale. We would always encourage consumers to take note of our advice on safe cooking, handling and storage of chicken and other poultry meat.”
2 Sisters Food Group have published a statement on their website advising that they have launched their own internal investigation at the West Bromwich plant. Their investigation has shown instances of non-compliance with their quality management systems and have since decided to temporarily shut operations at the site.