The FSA has extended its investigation into alleged food safety breaches at a 2 Sisters Food Group plant in West Bromwich to an additional 12 factories owned by the poultry giant across England and Wales.
While an initial investigation into the West Bromwich site implicated in an ITV/Guardian investigation expose last week had not identified any food safety issues, the regulator said today on 6 October it was widening its investigations to other facilities operated by the Ranjit Singh-owned supplier in England and Wales.
The FSA and local authority inspectors had highlighted “issues requiring management attention, for example in relation to some aspects of staff training and stock control”, the watchdog said.
“We are working with the major retailers supplied by 2 Sisters, as well as reviewing information from various other sources,” it added in a statement.
“We have also written formally to ITN and The Guardian to request the full evidence taken by their undercover investigation, such as the footage taken and witness interview transcripts to assist our investigation.”
Some of the breaches uncovered by The ITV/Guardian exposé included claims workers would pick up discarded pieces of chicken and place them back on the production lines, alongside allegations that chicken reared for other retailers ended up in packets for Tesco’s Willow Farms - despite labelling stating the contents had been “reared exclusively for Tesco”.
2 Sisters temporarily suspended operations at its West Bromwich site on 1 October, pending staff retraining after it admitted it was “shocked and distressed” at the allegations.
FSA chairman Heather Hancock said: “Although our initial inspection found no risk to public health, we are broadening our investigations until we are satisfied that this is truly the case.
“I’m disappointed that ITN and The Guardian have not yet provided the information that they committed to share and I would urge anyone who has evidence to share to bring it directly to us.”
A spokesman for 2 Sisters Food Group said: “We receive regular audits at all our English and Welsh sites by the Food Standards Agency throughout the year, so of course we will welcome our FSA colleagues at any location they wish to inspect in the coming days.”