The hearing on October 25, before the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee, will hear evidence from Boparan, The Food Standards Agency (FSA), Assured Food Standards and the British Poultry Council.
EFRA said the short inquiry, which would look at the potential ramifications of the allegations made against 2 Sisters for the poultry sector and the wider food chain. It would also probe the role and performance of the regulatory and accreditation bodies in maintaining food standards and food safety.
Chairman Neil Parish added: “The committee has been closely monitoring reports about malpractice at the 2 Sisters Food Group, and considers an inquiry into the allegations of food safety breaches at its processing plants to be a matter of urgency.
‘Allow 2 Sisters to rectify the situation’
“We hope that looking into the causes of any breaches will allow 2 Sisters to rectify the situation and put in place safeguards that mean similar incidents do not happen again.”
2 Sisters confirmed that Boparan had been summoned to the meeting, but declined to comment further on the matter.
The enquiry follows an undercover joint investigation by The Guardian and ITV News, which claimed chickens returned by supermarket distribution centres were being repackaged and returned to retailers, as well as hygiene and welfare offences.
The decision to call the hearing comes after the FSA extended its probe into 2 Sisters’ poultry plants in England and Wales, after its initial investigation revealed “issues requiring management attention”.
The West Bromwich factory remains closed and many retailers have suspended their deliveries from the company.
‘Issues requiring management attention’
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.”
FSA chairman Heather Hancock added: “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.”
2 Sisters food safety breach allegations – timeline
- September 28: The Guardian and ITV News releases video footage from an undercover investigation of 2 Sisters’ West Bromwich plant, which claimed food safety breaches had occurred
- September 29: Tesco, Sainsbury, Marks & Spencer, Aldi, Lidl and the Co-op suspend deliveries from the plant
- October 6: The FSA reveals plans to extend its probe into 2 Sisters’ poultry plants in England and Wales
- October 12: Ranjit Singh Boparan is called to a parliamentary enquiry by EFRA, to be attended by the FSA, Assured Food Standards and the British Poultry Council