FSA investigation found ‘process weaknesses’ at 2 Sisters

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

The FSA said 2 Sisters promptly resolved issues
The FSA said 2 Sisters promptly resolved issues

Related tags: Fsa, Food standards agency, Hygiene

A Food Standards Agency (FSA) investigation of 2 Sisters Food Group (2SFG) plants following the scandal which plagued the company at the end of last year found “several process weaknesses” and “regulatory failures”.

The information was released by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee following an update on progress provided by the FSA. The report assessed the key findings of the FSA against allegations made in the media, and investigated by the EFRA Committee.

On the process weaknesses and failures, the FSA said: “These were all promptly resolved through corrective actions by the company.”

Ranjit Boparan, former chief executive of 2 Sisters, faced a grilling from the EFRA Committee in October after allegations were made about food, hygiene and welfare breaches at the company’s West Bromwich plant. The allegations were made after a joint investigation by The Guardian​ and ITN News​. He promised to fund FSA inspectors, implement CCTV across the company's plants and to improve staff training.

500 hours of CCTV footage

In the wake of the issues at the West Bromwich plant, the FSA was provided with 500 hours of footage to review.

The FSA compiled a list of potential or confirmed non-compliances.

The report said: “This provided evidence of sporadic poor hygiene and bad practice, such as inadequate use of protective clothing, placing of knives on unhygienic surfaces or inadequate cleaning procedures, but did not represent widespread systematic failures.”

2SFG has also agreed to provide remote access to FSA inspectors of all live and retained CCTV footage when installation roll-out is complete. The FSA said this would enable spot checks and the ability to explore specific issues linked to audits and inspections in all sites.

Cultural change

The FSA also said that 2SFG had accelerated its cultural change programme, seeking to build trust and integrity with its customers, regulators and its workforce. It said it would continue to monitor progress with 2SFG on the wider cultural issues, as well as the specific matters linked directly to the application of official controls.

As a result of the FSA findings and as 2SFG has agreed to full CCTV access and sharing the results of its mystery worker activity, it said it did not believe the emergency measures put in place, such as a full-time presence in all 2SFG standalone poultry cutting plants, were still required.

“We will now start to phase this out, as confidence in the food producer grows,”​ the FSA report said.

2 Sisters said it welcomed the publication of the FSA investigative report into its UK poultry sites.

It said: “Not only did we act swiftly on remedying the situation once alerted last year, we have led the way with new initiatives to ensure trust and transparency are maintained within the industry.

​For example, we are the only UK food business to publish all of its audit outcomes and are introducing independently monitored CCTV at all of our cutting plants.

​We look forward to continuing an open and positive dialogue with the FSA and other regulatory bodies.”

The FSA is reviewing cutting plants to assess the presence and coverage of CCTV before agreeing implementation plans. If a voluntary approach cannot be achieved, the FSA said it would consult on legislation to implement CCTV in all cutting plants.

 

Related topics: Manufacturing

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