UK supermarkets have launched investigations after it was alleged that the UK’s largest supplier of chickens has been altering use-by dates on its poultry products.
Workers at a 2 Sisters Food Group plant in West Bromwich were found to be altering ‘kill dates’ following an undercover investigation by the Guardian and ITV.
The company, which produces a third of all poultry products consumed in the UK, supplies supermarkets Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Aldi, Lidl and Marks & Spencer.
According to the report, an undercover journalist saw workers changing records of where the chickens had been slaughtered.
The Guardian and ITV News said in a statement that more than 20 workers had confirmed unhygienic practices took place, with some now refusing to eat chicken from supermarkets.
A reporter claimed to have seen employees returning chicken to the production line after it had fallen on the floor.
The 2 Sisters Company, which was founded in 1993 by Ranjit Singh Boparan and employs 23,000 staff, said it views the allegations ‘very seriously’.
In a statement, the company said: “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.”
The statement continued: “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.”
Following the publication of the report, inspectors from the Food Standards Agency went into the plant in question to begin investigations. They have found no evidence of breaches.
FSA chairman Heather Hancock 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 has 36 manufacturing sites in the UK, eight in the Netherlands, five in Ireland and one in Poland.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019