2 Sisters Food Group supplies around a third of all poultry products eaten in the UK ©123RF
2 Sisters Food Group supplies around a third of all poultry products eaten in the UK ©123RF

Chicken scandal: supermarkets 'still don't control supply chains'

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
29 September 2017

Marks & Spencer and Aldi have suspended purchases of chicken from a major supplier after an investigation uncovered evidence of hygiene breaches and tampering with food safety records.

The investigation, by the Guardian and ITV News, featured undercover footage of workers at 2 Sisters Food Group's plant in West Bromwich altering the slaughter date of poultry, dropping chickens on the floor and replacing them on the production line and changing records of where birds were slaughtered. Workers were also shown mixing chickens with different "kill dates" on the production line, with use-by dates reflecting the age of the freshest, not the oldest, meat.

The Food Standards Agency has also launched an investigation into the company as a result of the findings.

2 Sisters Food Group says on its website that it supplies around a third of all poultry products eaten in the UK and processes 6m chickens every week.

CIPS warned that supermarkets "still do not have complete control of their end-to-end supply chain", despite the horse meat scandal.

"This is a major scandal affecting a huge number of businesses and consumers as once again, the health of the nation is being put at risk with sharp practices in our food supply chains," said a spokesperson.

"Supermarkets still do not have complete control of their end-to-end supply chain and knowledge about their suppliers continues to be severely impaired years after the horse meat scandal.

"No doubt that economic pressures have a strong impact on companies, but complete and detailed audits of suppliers, strict quality controls and keeping the consumer at the heart of food production must come first."

M&S and Aldi have begun their own investigations into the allegations. Tesco, Sainsbury's and Lidl are reported to be doing the same.

A spokesperson for M&S said: “We have commenced an immediate investigation into these allegations and will not be taking any more product from this site until it has concluded to our satisfaction. The standards shown in the footage are unacceptable, we take hygiene and traceability very seriously and have extremely high production standards.”

An Aldi spokesperson said: "We have suspended supply from this site while we carry out an urgent investigation into these allegations. 

“We expect all suppliers to adhere to the highest possible food hygiene and traceability standards at all times.”

2 Sisters Food Group's brands include Fox's Biscuits and Goodfella's pizzas. Its parent company, Boparan Holdings, reported revenues of £821.9m for the third quarter of 2017, up 4.8% year-on-year, and an operating profit of £13.1m, down 39.4%.

In a statement the firm said: "We view these allegations extremely seriously.

"However, we have not been given the time or the detailed evidence to conduct any thorough investigations to establish the facts, which makes a fulsome response very difficult.

"What we can confirm is that hygiene and food safety will always be the number one priority within the business, and they remain at its very core."

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