2 sisters poultry plant faces hygiene allegations
UK poultry processors have issued a stern defence of their company protocols, following allegations in The Guardian newspaper of unhygienic practices and a lax approach to regulation.
In a feature article entitled "Poultry industry's dirty secret", the newspaper focuses on campylobacter levels throughout the poultry supply chain, claiming that malpractice on farms and in factories is contributing to a worsening disease situation.
Whistleblowers say the public is being put at risk because of suspect practices at two of the largest UK poultry processors, the 2 Sisters Food Group and Faccenda.
Claims in the article include unhygienic practises such as chickens which fall on to the floor have repeatedly been put back on to the production line at two 2 Sisters sites. Breakdowns have led to high-risk material – feathers, guts and offal – piling up for hours on separate occasions while production continued at a 2 Sisters factory in Wales.
Another breakdown, the article alleges, led to the water in scald tanks at the same site not being cleaned for three days, so that around 250,000 birds passed through dirty water after slaughter. According to a whistleblower chicken catcher, biosecurity rules to stop the spread of campylobacter in chicken sheds at Faccenda were regularly ignored by workers when he was employed there.
"The allegations about our processing sites at Scunthorpe and Llangefni made in the above article concerning our business and our management of campylobacter are untrue, misleading and inaccurate. There is no campylobacter contamination or problems at our sites, as confirmed by multiple independent external audits and our own rigorous testing," 2 Sisters responded in a statement.
"We strongly deny and defend ourselves against these allegations. Our company's heritage is steeped in the poultry sector. We are extremely proud of this heritage and our excellent track record as a poultry processor, and we will remain so. We are doing more than any other business in addressing the key issues our sector is facing and we are leading the way in establishing and enforcing industry best practice."
In light of the newspapers claims three major supermarkets have launched emergency investigations into their chicken sources over the last week.
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