Meat producer One Stop Halal has apologised after admitting causing unnecessary suffering to 81 chickens at its plant in Eye, Suffolk, last year.

The birds entered a scalding tank used to loosen feathers on 6 July during a non-stun slaughter while still alive and without having had their throats cut, the ­supplier confirmed.

One Stop Halal said it deeply regretted the incident, which occurred on the first day of operations at the Eye facility and involved “a degree of human error”. Employees who were involved in the incident no longer work for the business, it said.

“We take great pride in our high standards and we operate in full view of independent Food Standards Agency inspectors at all times. This includes one veterinary surgeon and three meat inspectors, as well as our own poultry welfare officer,” a spokesman added.

“Since this incident, the company have invested substantially in further training, improved control systems and have processed more than 30 million birds.”