Chicken firm stops supplies in scare over health breach
ONE of the largest suppliers of chicken to UK supermarkets has suspended operations after an investigation revealed a string of alleged health and safety breaches.
The 2 Sisters Food Group (2SFG), which has its headquarters in Birmingham and factories across the region, said supply would only restart once it was satisfied workers had been “appropriately retrained”.
An undercover reporter working at its West Bromwich site claimed to witness workers allegedly tampering with slaughter dates and mixing meat of different ages.
Source codes on crates of meat were also changed, the investigation by ITV News and The Guardian claimed.
The practices can artificially extend the shelf life of meat and make it untraceable in the event of an outbreak of food poisoning.
When meats of different ages were mixed together, the slaughter date of the newest batch rather than the oldest batch would be used, employees claimed. Some workers also claimed the chicken that supermarkets rejected was sometimes repackaged at the factory and sent out again.
Quality assurance workers told journalists they were intimidated by production managers and worried about being sent home if they tried to enforce food hygiene rules.
2SFG said in a statement on Sunday: “We are shocked and distressed by the allegations and the footage which we saw for the first time on Thursday.
“Since the allegations were put to us by The Guardian and ITV, we have been working around the clock to get to the truth of the matter.
“We responded immediately by launching our own internal investigation at our West Bromwich plant and invited the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to independently review our standards.
“The FSA has been in daily attendance since the allegations were raised and confirmed that it has not identified any breaches.
“However, our internal investigation has shown some isolated instances of non-compliance with our own quality management systems.
“We have therefore decided to temporarily suspend operations at the site to allow us the time to retrain all colleagues, including management, in all food safety and quality management systems.
“All colleagues will remain on full pay and will attend site whilst training is undertaken. We will only recommence supply once we are satisfied our colleagues have been appropriately retrained.”