2 Sisters Food Group has temporarily halted production at its West Midlands plant after undercover footage filmed by the Guardian and ITV appeared to show poor hygiene standards and dates being altered on packs.
At the end of last week, the footage was released, appearing to show 2 Sisters workers altering slaughter date of poultry being processed. This raised concerns consumers could have purchased chicken past its use-by date, which is both illegal and poses health risks.
The footage, filmed in August, also showed chicken being picked off the floor and thrown back on to the production line.
The British Poultry Council’s chief executive Richard Griffiths said the allegations were “serious and demand investigation. There will be thorough inquiries into what has happened, what needs to be corrected, and how future incidents can be avoided.
“Food safety is the number one priority for all food producers, and the company has clearly made that commitment. It would be unfair and unhelpful to speculate while all the parties involved are carrying out their investigations.”
Over the weekend, retailers including Tesco and Marks & Spencer suspended purchase of chickens from the plant, and announced their own investigations, as did the Food Standards Agency.
2 Sisters told The Guardian: “We are shocked and distressed by the allegations and the footage which we saw for the first time on Thursday 28 September. Since the allegations were put to us by the Guardian/ITV, we have been working around the clock to get to the truth of the matter.
“Food Standards Agency has been in daily attendance since the allegations were raised and confirmed that it has not identified any breaches. However, our internal investigation has shown some isolated instances of non-compliance with our own quality management systems.
“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.”