Poultry giants deny whistleblower hygiene claims

The 2 Sisters Food Group has called allegations printed in The Guardian about campylobacter failings “untrue, misleading and inaccurate”.

Felicity Lawrence’s ‘Poultry Industry’s dirty secret’, published in The Guardian today (24 July), claimed that undercover footage, photographic evidence and information from a whistleblower showed 2 Sisters and Faccenda breaking biosecurity rules that were in place to prevent campylobacter contamination.

The article said the companies, which supply poultry meat to Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Marks & Spencer, among others, regularly flouted hygiene standards. It reported incidents of poor practice, such as factory floors flooded with chicken guts and carcases coming into contact with workers’ boots before being returned to the production line.

However, a 2 Sisters response read: “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.

“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.”

The Guardian piece reported that a number of major retailers had now launched emergency investigations into their chicken suppliers. A spokesperson from the British Retail Consortium said: “Food safety is a key priority for retailers and the allegations of poor practice are concerning. These are currently being investigated by the specific retailers involved. All major retailers continue to work collaboratively with their suppliers and government to find solutions to reduce the prevalence of campylobacter.”

Faccenda has also denied the accusations and said it worked hard to improve food safety: “At Faccenda Foods, we recognise the food safety challenge posed by campylobacter and the concerns of consumers in this area. Through our Campylobacter Action Plan, Faccenda Foods continues to invest significantly across the whole supply chain to address this top priority issue. Our investment in current projects to tackle campylobacter is in excess of £1m.”

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