Supermarkets cancel orders for 2 Sisters after undercover investigation

Four major UK supermarkets have ditched 2 Sisters as a poultry supplier after an investigation into the UK’s biggest supermarket chicken supplier claims to have uncovered several potential food safety breaches.

It’s thought that around a third of the chicken eaten in the UK is processed by the firm.

An undercover reporter working for ITV News and ‘The Guardian’ got a job at 2 Sisters’ ‘Site D’ in the west midlands in England.

The report by ITV said: “He found evidence that suggests some of the chicken 2 Sisters produces from this factory may not be as fresh as the use-by date suggests.

Our reporter filmed workers changing both the date of slaughter and the source codes on crates of chicken crowns in such a way that artificially extended the meat’s shelf-life and rendered it almost untraceable in the event of an outbreak of food poisoning.

“On several occasions he witnessed workers returning chicken to the production line after it had fallen to the floor. This may have caused it to become contaminated.

“He saw meat of different ages being mixed together and he filmed Tesco’s “exclusive” Willow Farms range being topped up with drumsticks that were originally packaged for Lidl.”

The investigation was sparked after the organisation spoke to more than 20 past and current employees who confirmed they had witnessed similar behaviour.

Marks and Spencer, Lidl, Aldi and Sainsbury’s have said they will stop buying chicken from the firm until they have finished their investigations.

Tesco has said it will remove the claim that Willow Farm chicken is ‘reared exclusively for Tesco’ from its packaging after an investigation has shown otherwise.

2 Sisters turns over around £3.12 billion and employs 23,000 people. The majority of the firm’s sales are understood to be poultry products.

Response

Responding to the allegations made by the investigation, a spokesman for 2 Sisters said: “Hygiene and food safety will always be the number one priority within the business, and they remain at its very core.

“We also successfully operate in one of the most tightly-controlled and highly-regulated food sectors in the world.

“We are subject to multiple and frequent unannounced audits from the FSA [Food Standards Authority], BRC, Red Tractor, independent auditors as well as our customers. By example, our facility in the west midlands under investigation received nine audits (five unannounced) in the months of July and August alone.

“However, we are never complacent and remain committed to continually improving our processes and procedures.

“If, on presentation of further evidence, it comes to light any verifiable transgressions have been made at any of our sites, we will leave no stone unturned in investigating and remedying the situation immediately.

The Food Standards Agency said it takes any allegations of inaccurate labelling and breaches in hygiene regulations “very seriously” and added that it would investigate thoroughly.

“This particular cutting plant is regularly audited by the FSA and they are also subject to unannounced inspections,” a spokesman said.

Supermarkets Tesco, Lidl, Sainsbury’s and Aldi also said they would also launch their own investigations into 2 Sisters’ practices.