While initial inspection of the firm’s West Bromwich plant by the FSA and the local authority had failed to identify food safety concerns, it had “highlighted issues requiring management attention, for example in relation to some aspects of staff training and stock control”.
The joint probe followed an undercover investigation by The Guardian and ITV News, which claimed staff at the plant abused food safety, hygiene and animal welfare rules. The allegations, backed by what was said to be video evidence, claimed workers mistreated chickens and disguised slaughter dates and locations in moves that could result in consumers buying meat that was past its sell-by date.
The FSA chairman Heather Hancock expressed frustration that neither The Guardian nor ITV News had supplied more information about their claims.
“Consumers deserve food they can trust, and can be reassured that we take allegations of poor practice very seriously,” said Hancock.
“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 ITN 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 FSA boss had written to both media organisations to formally request the full evidence taken by their undercover investigation, such as the footage taken and witness interview transcripts to assist its investigation.
Food Standards Scotland said it was working closely with FSA to investigate standards at 2 Sisters’ production plants.
At present, there was no evidence to suggest any food safety concerns at the 2 Sisters poultry plant in Coupar Angus, said the agency.
‘Issues requiring management attention’
- Some aspects of staff training
- Stock control
No evidence to suggest any food safety concerns
Its 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 is being processed safely and is correctly labelled for the food chain.”
No one from 2 Sisters was available to comment on the FSA statement issued today (October 6).
Meanwhile, and industry insider told FoodManufacture.co.uk on Tuesday (October 3) that the allegations, while unproven, raised important questions about the calibre of management at the West Bromwhich plant.
Later in the week, food safety experts told us no FSA, local authority or private third-party audit of the plant would have been likely to spot hygiene failures at the plant.