News
for the month of October, 2017

2 Sisters sacks worker filmed at scandal-hit chicken plant

27th of October 2017

A worker filmed changing food safety records at the scandal-hit 2 Sisters chicken plant in West Bromwich has been sacked, in what appears to be the first admission by the company of a regulatory breach.

The disciplinary action can be revealed as the country’s largest supplier of supermarket chicken faces a parliamentary inquiry on Wednesday, in the wake of a Guardian and ITV News investigation into standards at the plant.

Separately, it has also emerged that the West Bromwich factory was temporarily stripped of its Red Tractor food safety and traceability accreditation.

It is understood that the worker – who was witnessed by a Guardian and ITV undercover reporter being instructed by a supervisor to change the kill dates on crates of chicken – was dismissed by company executives citing allegations he had breached “food safety regulations”.

The dismissal took place in the same week that 2 Sisters repeatedly claimed to investors that there had been no breaches of food safety at the factory.

During a conference call on 3 October, the finance chief, Richard Pike, said: “There have been no breaches of food safety regulations.” In the same call, the chief operating officer, Martyn Fletcher, added: “There were no actual breaches found by the Food Standards Agency … and our own internal investigations would say the same.”

In August, the Guardian and ITV recorded undercover footage showing an instance of 2 Sisters workers altering the source and slaughter date of poultry being processed at the firm’s Site D plant in West Bromwich.

Experts said altering “kill dates” could artificially stretch the commercial life of the meat and dupe consumers into buying chicken past its use-by date. It is illegal to place incorrect use-by dates on food, which are set for safety reasons and differ from “best before” dates. The company also told investors there was “no evidence of any such breach in that regard”.

Other 2 Sisters workers have also told the Guardian and ITV that they have been instructed to alter kill dates.

On the day after the footage was aired last month, Marks & Spencer, Aldi and Lidl all announced they had suspended deliveries from the 2 Sisters plant, while Sainsbury’s and Tesco followed suit over the following two days, with the company then suspending production at the factory.

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 Undercover inside the chicken factory – video

M&S said the footage showed unacceptable standards and also pulled chicken sourced from the plant from its shelves.

 

It is looking at 11 2 Sisters sites in England and Wales, while its Scottish counterpart has said it is looking at one plant. The FSA has said it had not found any threats to public health at the West Bromwich factory, but that it had identified issues requiring management attention. The investigation is ongoing and is centred on food hygiene and labelling.

The food regulator, along with the British Poultry Council and Assured Food Standards, which promotes and regulates food quality and licenses the Red Tractor quality mark, will all be appearing in front of the Commons’ environment, food and rural affairs committee on Wednesday to answer questions about the scandal.

They will be followed by Ranjit Singh Boparan, the multimillionaire founder of 2 Sisters, which is the UK’s second largest food company by turnover and claims to process about 6 million chickens every week.

A spokesman for Red Tractor said: “Food safety and traceability sit at the heart of Red Tractor. In light of the allegations made by ITV and the Guardian, Red Tractor launched its own, independent investigation at 2 Sisters ‘Site D’. As a result of this and 2 Sisters’ own admissions of issues, we suspended the site’s licence to use the Red Tractor logo on 3 October.

“Since the suspension, Red Tractor has conducted a more extensive investigation, including an audit of Site D. Some issues were found, although none relating to food safety. Red Tractor requested detailed information on the corrective actions 2 Sisters are making, considering the issues identified. These actions, together with 2 Sisters’ own corrective measures, gave us the confidence to reinstate the Site D licence on 9 October.”

A spokesman for 2 Sisters said that two individuals “were identified and went through our disciplinary procedures”, with the first admitting guilt and being “disciplined accordingly, retrained and reinstated in his position”.

He added that the second worker denied his involvement and has been dismissed after being identified by 10 witnesses.

The spokesman did not make any comment on the sacked worker being instructed by a supervisor to change the slaughter dates, or say specifically why 2 Sisters was disciplining employees for alleged breaches of “food safety regulations” while simultaneously telling investors there had been none.

He said the directors’ comments to investors “were related to the FSA statements and they had found no breaches”.

Food safety officers from Reading Borough Council visited Hot Stuff Tandoori on Oxford Road on October 2

27th of October 2017

A TAKEAWAY has been shut down by the council after inspectors found rat faeces in the kitchen and fresh poo on work surfaces.

Food safety officers from Reading Borough Council visited Hot Stuff Tandoori on Oxford Road on October 2, following complaints from customers.

Inspectors found evidence of a rat infestation, including a large number of droppings, gnawing and a 'strong smell' near the customer service area.

During the visit, officers found fresh faeces on a work surface which was being used for the preparation of ready-to-eat foods.

"They issued a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice and the takeaway was immediately shut down.

"The council was subsequently granted a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Order and costs totalling £1,072.00.

"The order means that Hot Stuff cannot open until food safety officers are satisfied the premises is free from rats and there is no imminent risk to health."

The case was heard at Reading Magistrates' Court on October 13 and included photographs from the visit.

Sarah Hacker, lead member for Consumer Services, said: “There is no excuse for these kind of breaches of basic food hygiene.

"While the majority of food outlets in Reading are responsible, that was clearly not the case here.

“Public safety remains a priority and business owners need to know we will take action where we receive reports.

“The work of the food safety team at Reading is an example of the sort of essential Council work that goes on behind the scenes to protect the public.

"My congratulations to the team for yet another successful prohibition order.”