One of the UK’s largest chicken suppliers has temporarily suspended its operations amid a series of health and safety concerns.
Reports suggest that a catalogue of serious health and safety breaches were uncovered at West Midlands-based 2 Sisters Food Group (2SFG) late last week, following an investigation led by ITV News and The Guardian.
Investigative journalism claims to have unveiled a series of food safety failings, including the mixing of meat of different ages and the tampering with slaughter dates and source codes.
It is thought that such practices can artificially extend the shelf life of meat products, and can also help to make products more difficult to trace in the event of a food poisoning outbreak.
Disgruntled employees at 2SFG, which supplies chicken to several leading UK supermarkets such as Tesco and Aldi, told journalists that the meat rejected by supermarkets is sometimes repackaged at the group’s West Bromwich facilities.
Quality assurance workers also voiced concerns that they felt ‘intimidated’ by production managers and feared losing their jobs if they tried to enforce food hygiene regulations, according to reports.
2SFG has denied all allegations.
In a statement on Sunday, it said: “We are shocked and distressed by the allegations and the footage which we saw for the first time on Thursday 28 September.
“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.
“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.”
The group added that the FSA had “not identified any breaches” but that 2SFG will be temporarily suspending operations anyway due to “some isolated incidents of non-compliance” within its quality management systems.
“We continue to work closely with the FSA and our customers throughout this period,” it has said.