2 Sisters lab certificate

FSA CEO Catherine Brown (left), 2 Sisters CEO Ranjit Singh Boparan (middle), Neil Khandke (2 Sisters group technical director), right.

2 Sisters Food Group is upping the ante in the fight against foodborne illness with the opening of a new £1m testing lab, which it claims will play a key role in tackling pathogens such as campylobacter, salmonella and listeria.

The lab - based at the BioCity bioscience hub in Nottingham - was opened by Food Standards Agency CEO Catherine Brown on Monday.

It will test up to 16,000 food samples a week, taken from ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook products manufactured at 2 Sisters sites around the country.

Microbiologists at BioCity will test products for harmful foodborne organisms including salmonella and listeria.

Raw poultry will continue to be tested for campylobacter at a separate third-party facility. However, 2 Sisters’ campylobacter strategy will be driven by a team based at BioCity.

The new lab would play a “key part” in tackling campylobacter, said CEO Ranjit Singh Boparan. As 2 Sisters grew, there was an increasing need to ensure quality and safety went hand-in-hand, he added.

Speaking to The Grocer earlier this month on the launch of the FSA’s new campylobacter strategy, Brown said Boparan had personally talked her through 2 Sisters’ “much more aggressive desire to eradicate campylobacter”.

On opening the lab this week, she said: “I am impressed by the energy and commitment 2 Sisters has shown by developing and building this state-of-the-art facility.”

The new lab is double the size of 2 Sisters’ previous lab, which was also in Nottingham, and it has created 20 new jobs.

After the initial £1m outlay for building work, the lab will cost 2 Sisters £2m a year to run. The company said it would be cheaper to outsource testing, but it wanted to retain testing capability in-house.