FSA to investigate other 2 Sisters processing plants

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has decided to extend its investigations to other 2 Sisters poultry plants in England and Wales.

This follows an initial inspection by the FSA, working with the local authority, into the food hygiene and labelling concerns raised by ITV/The Guardian on 28 September at the 2 Sisters Food Group’s West Bromwich plant.

According to the FSA, this inspection has not identified food safety issues on these premises, but it highlighted issues requiring management attention, for example in relation to some aspects of staff training and stock control.

In a statement, it said: “We are working with the major retailers supplied by 2 Sisters, as well as reviewing information from various other sources. We have also written formally to ITV and The Guardian to request the full evidence taken by their undercover investigation, such as the footage taken and witness interview transcripts to assist our investigation.”

Heather Hancock, chairman of the FSA, said: “Consumers deserve food they can trust, and can be reassured that we take allegations of poor practice very seriously. Although our initial inspection found no risk to public health, we are broadening our investigations until we are satisfied that this is truly the case. I’m disappointed that ITV and The Guardian have not yet provided the information that they committed to share and I would urge anyone who has evidence to share to bring it directly to us.”

The concerns were raised as part of an undercover investigation at the plant by the two media outlets, which led to allegations of altering kill dates; returned poultry being repackaged; mixing of chicken with different kill dates; and product dropped on the factory floor being returned to the processing line.

The allegations have led retail customers Tesco, Aldi, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer to launch their own investigations into the issue.

North of the border, Food Standards Scotland said it was continuing to work closely with the FSA in relation to the ongoing investigation.

“At this time, Food Standards Scotland has no evidence to suggest that there are any food safety concerns in the 2 Sisters poultry plant in Coupar Angus,” it said.

Food Standards Scotland’s director of operations Ian McWatt said: “It’s paramount that our food industry is producing food that’s safe to eat. Food Standards Scotland conducts regular – and often unannounced – inspections at abattoirs and cutting plants in Scotland to ensure that they have controls in place to maintain the highest standard of food safety.

“We last audited the Coupar Angus 2 Sisters premises in July this year and this audit showed that the plant had adequate controls in place to ensure that the poultry was being processed safely and was correctly labelled for the food chain.

“Following the staff and stock issues identified this week at the 2 Sisters Plant in England, Food Standards Scotland is working closely with the Food Standards Agency and will increase the level of our unannounced inspections programme in Scotland as a precautionary measure.

“If evidence shows controls are not satisfactory, we will – and do - take action.”

A 2 Sisters spokesperson said: “We receive regular audits at all our English and Welsh sites by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) throughout the year, so of course we will welcome our FSA colleagues at any location they wish to inspect in the coming days.”

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