2 Sisters boss sought to reassure MPs on factory safety

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

2 Sisters boss Ranjit Boparan disclosed measures to improve food safety at the firm’s West Bromwich plant
2 Sisters boss Ranjit Boparan disclosed measures to improve food safety at the firm’s West Bromwich plant

Related tags: Food standards agency, West bromwich

The boss of 2 Sisters Food Group Ranjit Boparan has said he would personally visit all retailers to reassure them of the safety of its West Bromwich plant, which was the subject of an undercover press investigation and Commons select committee inquiry.

He revealed the plan while being grilled by MPs on the House of Commons’ Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) select committee at an all-day probe on October 25.

The inquiry was launched after allegations were made about food hygiene and welfare breaches at the company’s West Bromwich plant following a joint undercover investigation by The Guardian​ and ITV News.

“I will personally go and see every retailer to ask them to recommence production in that factory,”​ he said. “We have that awkward situation of who goes in first. Nobody wants to the first one but they all want to be in there.”

‘Personally go and see every retailer’

The West Bromwich plant ceased production of 200,000kg of chicken portions a day after revelations about alleged food safety failures.

Boparan revealed that some of his other plants had increased production to meet the shortfall in supplies to supermarkets but admitted that the company was not able to fulfil all of its orders.

Chair of the committee, MP for Tiverton and Honiton, Neil Parish said he was “hugely concerned” ​about the impact on the supply chain as both 2 Sisters and other operators could be “ruined”.

“We need Tesco, Sainsbury, Asda and Lidl to go back in the market and buy your chicken. It is not just about you, it is about all the people that supply you and it is about all the consumers that eat the chicken that you have processed,”​ Parish said.

Boparan agreed to fund Food Standards Agency (FSA) inspectors across all of its cutting plants, implement CCTV in all areas, improve staff training and change the culture within the business.

Conduct a forensic investigation

He also revealed that the company had hired a third party to conduct a forensic investigation into the alleged food safety incidents and would give the report to the committee when concluded.

However, he declined to answer a direct question on whether there had been a breach of food safety regulations but admitted there were “mistakes”.​ He sought to reassure MPs that food produced by the company was safe and invited them to visit the factory.

Parish said he accepted Boparan’s reassurances that he would resolve the issues. But he said if 2 Sisters did not change its practices, the select committee would take a tough stance on the company.

The committee planned to recall witnesses from its inquiry in six months’ time to monitor progress.

Meanwhile, 2 Sisters Food Group confirmed its intention today (November 6) to reopen its scandal-hit West Bromwich factory​ later this week.

Food Manufacture contributes to The Food Programme

Food Manufacture’s group editor Mike Stones has contributed to a recent edition of BBC Radio 4’s The Food Programme, ​dedicated to probing problems in the UK poultry sector. The programme – first broadcast on Sunday October 29 – explored the investigations now underway by The Food Standards Agency and MPs into supplier practices at 2 Sisters Food Group. Listen to the programme​ on the BBC iPlayer.

Related topics: Food Safety, Meat, poultry & seafood

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