An undercover investigation by The Guardian newspaper into the food poisoning bug campylobacter has claimed to have uncovered hygiene breaches in the UK poultry industry.

The allegations related to two processing plants owned by 2 Sisters, which supply poultry to Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Aldi, Marks & Spencer and KFC, and farms and an abattoir owned by Faccenda Foods, which supplies Asda and restaurant chain Nando’s.

How have the companies – and the wider industry – responded to The Guardian claims?

2 Sisters Food Group

The allegations about our processing sites at Scunthorpe and Llangefni concerning our business and our management of campylobacter are untrue, misleading and inaccurate. There is no campylobacter contamination or problems at our sites, as confirmed by multiple independent external audits and our own rigorous testing.

We strongly deny and defend ourselves against these allegations. Our company’s heritage is steeped in the poultry sector. We are extremely proud of this heritage and our excellent track record as a poultry processor, and we will remain so.  We are doing more than any other business in addressing the key issues our sector is facing and we are leading the way in establishing and enforcing industry best practice.

To date, we have only been given limited detail of the alleged evidence which The Guardian claims to possess. However, our detailed response answers as fully as we can at this stage the specific allegations made.

The company has an open policy to engage with key stakeholders such as local authorities, the media and Government bodies. We have also kept our customers fully informed as soon as we were contacted by The Guardian. We will be working to actively engage further with our stakeholders in the coming weeks in order to reassure them about our operations in the light of this inaccurate and misleading article.

2 Sisters has also published a more detailed rebuttal of the allegations, which you can read here.

Faccenda Foods

“Faccenda Foods fully stands by all of our responses to the Guardian’s investigation,” says MD Andy Dawkins. “At Faccenda Foods, we recognise the food safety challenge posed by campylobacter and the concerns of consumers in this area. Through our Campylobacter Action Plan, Faccenda Foods continues to invest significantly across the whole supply chain to address this top priority issue. Our investment in current projects to tackle campylobacter is in excess of £1m.

 “Our action plan has been proactively shared and acknowledged with the Food Standards Agency and our customers, focussing on three key areas – farm biosecurity, interventions in our factory operations and improved food safety in the kitchen.”

“We have further improved biosecurity arrangements in place at all our farms working to revised Red Tractor standards. We also continue to invest in testing for routine surveillance as part of our risk assessment programme.   

“We have committed significant resources to the development of innovative factory interventions to reduce campylobacter and will move to full-scale in-line trials later this year. Any change in our process will, where possible, be independently validated and our results shared with the FSA Joint Working Group on Campylobacter. Again, we will use our testing programme to monitor progress throughout this period.

“We are very proud of our working relationship with all our customers on improving food hygiene and safety in the kitchen. This includes our award-winning ‘Simply Roast In The Bag’ products, developed with Asda, which offer significant food safety benefits for consumers, by removing the need to handle raw product before cooking. We are committed to investing further to roll out the use of this technology in other products.

“Finally, we have been a leading contributor to the FSA Joint Working Group on Campylobacter reduction and continue to support this unique collaborative approach which has made a significant contribution to overall progress across the industry.

“Faccenda Foods is fully committed to a programme of process and product improvements and believe these will result in real improvements in food safety for consumers.”

Food Standards Agency

“The FSA has investigated the issues raised in the Guardian video and is satisfied that appropriate action was taken at this plant at the time. We are content with the way the vet working for the FSA and the food business dealt with a situation that arose from an unavoidable mechanical breakdown. Our most recent audit of this plant showed that it was fully compliant with the regulations.”


“Providing safe food is our first priority, so we take these allegations of poor practice against one of our suppliers extremely seriously, and have launched an immediate investigation.  Customers can be assured that we conduct our own stringent quality checks on fresh chicken received from suppliers before it is placed on shelves, so we can be confident that it meets our very high quality and safety standards.”


“Customers rightly expect our food to be of the highest safety standards and can be confident in the safety of products bought from our stores. We perform regular independent and in-house checks to ensure these standards are met and are investigating these allegations with 2 Sisters. All of our chicken products are labelled with cooking instructions and clear food safety advice.”


“We take food safety very seriously and regularly audit all of our suppliers to ensure they meet our strict codes of practise. We do not tolerate any alleged breach of our standards and have launched an immediate investigation into these allegations. This is an industry issue that we are working with the FSA on and leading the industry on a comprehensive plan to eliminate campylobacter. We’ve provided advice for customers, launched new packaging for chicken and funded trials and projects on reducing campylobacter – all of which is independently monitored.”

British Poultry Council

”The Guardian has published a series of allegations against two members of the British Poultry Council.

“The individual incidents shown appear to be breaches of good hygiene and manufacturing practice. They will be thoroughly investigated and corrective action taken to ensure they are not repeated. However, they are isolated events and are in no way representative of the high standards of the chicken industry as a whole.

”Food safety is the top priority for British Poultry Council members. The members concerned have strenuously denied the allegations accompanying the images, and have restated their commitment to producing safe food for all their customers. The BPC stands beside them in their commitment to customer service excellence.”

British Retail Consortium

“Food safety is a key priority for retailers and the allegations of poor practice are concerning. These are currently being investigated by the specific retailers involved.  All major retailers continue to work collaboratively with their suppliers and government to find solutions to reduce the prevalence of campylobacter.

“Retailers have funded research and introduced consumer focused interventions including leak proof packaging and labelling on pack giving advice on minimising cross contamination. We agree with the FSA that publishing the interim survey results would be meaningless without statistically robust analysis.”

Huw Irranca-Davies MP, Labour’s Shadow Food and Farming Minister 

“These are serious accusations of malpractice in the poultry slaughter and processing sector, and Labour is calling on the FSA to carry out an immediate full and thorough investigation. If it is found that consumers have been put at risk, we would expect swift and strong action to be taken to restore public confidence, including action against individuals and companies if appropriate.

 “We are also demanding an explanation from the Chief Executive of the decision to retreat from quarterly reporting by retailers on campylobacter.

 “This is the latest food scare to happen under this Government, who were slow to react to the horsemeat scandal, and who have still not published the Elliot Review on food, crime which was due in the spring.

 “Labour would make food safety and good food governance a top priority again, because the consumer needs constant vigilance against bad practice and criminality.”


“Food hygiene and safety is incredibly important to us and our customers should be confident we take any concerns extremely seriously. We’re in discussions with our suppliers regarding these allegations.”


Chief poultry adviser Gary Ford said: “Campylobacter is an extremely complex issue that farmers, and the rest of the food supply chain, take very seriously. Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet but significant ongoing research will help us all to understand more about campylobacter and how we reduce it.

“Farmers have been working hard on the ground to explore biosecurity measures, such as foot dips, barriers, hand sanitizers and much more, as well as taking part in a number of trials which we hope will find ways to reduce the bacteria on-farm.

“The NFU has also been working closely with all parts of the supply chain, retailers and Government as well as scientists, to encourage closer working relationships, to share knowledge and to explore further opportunities – whether that is through the FSA’s joint working group, ongoing discussion or through our own industry-supported campylobacter conference in March.

“Consumers should be aware that poultry meat is safe to eat and are encouraged to follow simple handling, storage and cooking procedures in their own homes, produced by the FSA.”