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October 2, 2017

2 Sisters suspends operations at UK poultry plant

2 Sisters Food Group has suspended operations at its West Bromwich poultry plant in the Midlands due to some "isolated instances of non-compliance'' with its own quality management systems.

By Simon Harvey

2 Sisters Food Group has suspended operations at its West Bromwich poultry plant in the Midlands due to some “isolated instances of non-compliance” with its own quality management systems.

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The temporary suspension follows an undercover investigation by The Guardian newspaper and ITV News that alleged workers at the plant tampered with slaughter date labels on fresh chickens, posing a potential health hazard to consumers over use-by dates. The probe also appeared to show workers mixed birds with different “kill” dates on the production line.

“We are shocked and distressed by the allegations and the footage which we saw for the first time on Thursday 28 September,” the company said in a statement yesterday (1 October) referring to the live broadcast that aired on ITV. “Since the allegations were put to us by the Guardian/ITV, we have been working around the clock to get to the truth of the matter.”

The investigation also disclosed that products returned by UK supermarkets were repackaged and returned, while fresh chickens dropped on the floor were put back on the production line. Marks and Spencer consequently suspended supplies from the 2 Sisters plant on 29 September and launched an immediate investigation, while Sainsbury’s, Aldi and Lidl have also since done so.

Altering slaughter dates would make it more difficult to trace the source of any potential food poisoning outbreak. Experts told the investigation team that the practice of changing kill dates could artificially stretch the commercial life of meat products by triggering the food processor to print incorrect use-by dates on supermarket packaging. Supermarket products typically have a use-by date around ten days after the bird has been slaughtered. 

“We responded immediately by launching our own internal investigation at our West Bromwich plant and invited the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to independently review our standards,” 2 Sisters said in the statement. “The FSA has been in daily attendance since the allegations were raised and confirmed that it has not identified any breaches.”

The suspension was undertaken to allow workers and management at the site to be retrained while on full pay, the company said, adding that it will only recommence production once staff have been “appropriately retrained”. 

“We continue to work closely with the FSA and our customers throughout this period,” 2 Sisters said. “We remain committed to ensuring that we operate to the highest standards of hygiene and food safety, and we act with honesty and integrity at all times.”

The FSA said on 29 September that it found “no evidence of breaches” at the West Bromwich site.

Related Companies

Free Whitepaper
img

What is the impact of historically high inflation on the UK consumer landscape?

The average UK consumer is experiencing a severe cost-of living crisis as inflation surges to a forty-year high and the price of goods continues to rise. This shock is the result of the sharply increasing costs of commodities, energy, and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, and is threatening FMCG manufacturers, retailers, and foodservice operators’ ability to survive and grow. Inflation will have a profound effect on many consumer-facing industries in 2022 and beyond. Consult GlobalData’s new whitepaper, Inflation in the UK: The Impact of Historically High Inflation on the UK Consumer Landscape, to better understand shifts in consumer behavior and their impact on spending patterns, as well as the implications for UK businesses. This whitepaper covers:  
  • Why has global inflation returned with a vengeance?
  • What is the current inflation situation in the UK?
  • What impact is inflation having on UK retail sales?
  • What tactics are businesses relying on to tackle the effects of high inflation?
  • How are consumers changing their behaviors to cope with the higher cost of living?
  • Which industry sectors are most vulnerable to reduced consumer demand?
  • How is the government responding to high inflation?
  • How long will high inflation last in the UK?
  • How can your company survive and thrive in a high inflation environment?
Enter your details here to receive your free whitepaper and ready your business for these increasingly uncertain times.
by GD50 Custom
Enter your details here to receive your free Whitepaper.

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