Production has been suspended at 2 Sisters Food Group’s West Bromwich plant following a Guardian/ITV expose that suggested kill dates were being artificially extended, among other breaches of food standards.
The company said in a statement that operations would be suspended at the site after it found “isolated instances of non-compliance” with internal quality management systems.
It will remain closed until staff have been re-trained, 2 Sisters added.
Supermarkets conducted own investigations
It follows most supermarkets supplied by the plant, including Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Lidl and Aldi launching their own investigations into the issue.
Most supermarkets supplied by the plant, including Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Lidl and Aldi launching their own investigations into the issue. Photo: Monkey Business Images/Rex/Shutterstock
A video released on Thursday, 28 September, purports to show employees relabelling poultry with later kill dates; mixing batches of old and new chicken and picking up produce that had fallen to the floor.
Chicken in Lidl packaging also appears to be reused as “exclusive to Tesco” own-label poultrymeat.
9 regular inspections during the summer
The Food Standards Agency said it had launched its own investigation, but that an initial inspection of the footage, and the West Bromwich site, had found no evidence of breaches. The regulator inspected West Bromwich 9 times in July and August, it added.
Chair of Defra’s select committee Neil Parish said he would call 2 Sisters bosses to a “short, sharp inquiry” over the matter.
Chicken meat returned from supermarkets being placed back on the production line. Photo: Guardian/ITV expose
2 Sisters' comment on discovery
A 2 Sisters spokesman said: “Our internal investigation has shown some isolated instances of non-compliance with our own Quality management systems.
Staff to be re-trained
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 that our colleagues have been appropriately retrained.
Continue to work closely with FSA
“We continue to work closely with the FSA and our customers throughout this period.
“We remain committed to ensuring that we operate to the highest standards of hygiene and food safety, and we act with honesty and integrity at all times.”
The British Poultry Council said: “The allegations presented today by The Guardian/ITV are serious and demand investigation.
“As has been stated by the company, its retail customers, and its regulators, there will be thorough inquiries into what has happened, what needs to be corrected, and how future incidents can be avoided.”