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May 12, 2022updated 13 May 2022 9:39am

Cranswick chicken factory closes after salmonella contamination

Cranswick has closed a poultry site in Hull as it investigates with the Food Standards Agency.

By Simon Harvey

Cranswick shares were down in London today (12 May) after the food group revealed it had identified salmonella in cooked chicken products produced at a UK factory, prompting a recall by a plethora of retailers.

Tesco, Sainsbury, Marks and Spencer, plus discounter Aldi, are among the chains that have withdrawn from sale products including sandwiches, wraps, marinated chicken strips and salads.

The moves came after what Cranswick described as “a routine internal inspection … identified the presence of salmonella in a limited number of cooked chicken products prepared at our poultry facility in Hull”.

The Cranswick Country Foods site, on the east coast of England, has been closed, Cranswick said. The group has launched an investigation with the Food Standards Agency (FSA), noting in a statement the company will “collaborate with their experts to resolve the matter”.

Cranswick, which generated GBP1.9bn (US$2.3bn) in revenues in its last fiscal year and has facilities across the UK, added: “These products are sold as ingredients for sandwiches and meals through UK retailers and food-to-go outlets.

“As a precautionary measure, we have asked our customers to remove any of their products containing our ready-to-eat chicken produced during the affected period. We are conducting a thorough investigation into the possible cause of the contamination and the site will remain closed until the investigations are complete.”

The FSA issued an advisory on its website listing the retailers and outlets recalling products. Tesco’s One Stop convenience stores, Waitrose, The Co-op and Amazon were also named, along with coffee-shop chains Starbucks, Costa and Caffé Nero.

“Cranswick Country Foods are recalling several products containing chicken because salmonella has been found in some of the chicken used to manufacture these products,” the FSA noted, adding that as a “precaution additional products are also being recalled whilst investigations continue”.

When contacted by Just Food to ascertain when the salmonella source was detected and for detail on any plans to fill the production shortfall, Cranswick declined to comment beyond the statement it put out yesterday (11 May).

The company’s website noted the Benson Hill facility in Hull began operating as a cooked chicken facility in 2004 “supplying high-quality products to manufacturing and foodservice customers, and in 2014 it became part of Cranswick”. The website reads: “Now known as Cranswick Country Foods Poultry, the site is based in Hull, a couple of miles away from Cranswick Gourmet Sausage, Cranswick Convenience Foods Sutton Fields and Cranswick Gourmet Kitchen”.

Just Food also contacted the FSA for additional comments on the investigation. It said: “The FSA was informed of this incident on 10 May, and has been working with the business and their LA [local authority] since this date.”

Cranswick added in its salmonella advisory: “The safety and quality of every product produced by Cranswick is our number one priority and all necessary protocols will be followed and completed before we restart production.”

The company is due to report its latest annual results on 24 May after posting profit before tax in the 12 months to 27 March 2021 of GBP129.7m. The company’s shares were 1.9% lower at 3,028 pence as of 3:44pm BST today in London.

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