The company spoke out after just over 6,000 people signed a petition calling for the Environment Agency (EA) to refuse the varying of an environmental permit to pour trade effluent into the Alresford Pond.
Bakkavor’s Alresford Salad site in Hampshire was the focus of the petition, created by Jim Murray, which has called for the company to connect to a sewer for all its contaminated water. It also accused the EA of failing to protect the river over the last 20 years.
The petition said: “Alresford Pond is now full of manmade chemicals and the Upper Itchen fails water quality objectives under the Water Framework Directive and falls short of conservation objectives under the EU Habitats Directive.”
However, in a statement, Bakkavor countered: “Bakkavor takes its environmental responsibilities extremely seriously and we are proud of our record of ensuring the highest levels of environmental safety across our business.
“The petition, started in relation to our permit renewal application to the EA, contains misleading inaccuracies.
“Our Alresford Salads site is committed to washing all leaf product in non-chlorinated water and any water discharged from the site is filtered and treated to ensure it meets the exacting standards of the EA.
“We are happy to engage with the community on this issue to reassure them.”
Local MP Steve Brine visited Alresford Salads on Monday, February 12 to meet with senior staff from Bakkavor and discuss the company’s current application with the EA. He said the petition’s original statement that chlorine was used as part of the salad-washing treatment was incorrect.
"I became aware a few weeks back of a petition created online, which caused a lot of alarm to local people,” he said.
“The only difficulty with this was that chlorine has not been used on the site for a number of years.
“I fear we've another case here of people confusing information and fact online as one and the same. They are clearly not, and I note the petition has now been revised.”