UK - UK leading poultry processor 2 Sisters Food Group has hit back at allegations over poor hygiene practices and standards.
The rebuttal follows allegations in an article in The Guardian newspaper that claimed to have undercover film footage and photographs of poor practices in the company’s plants.
The article cited incidents of chicken guts on the floor of the processing plants, chickens that fell on the floor being put back onto the line and breakdowns, including one in a scald tank and poor practices that could lead to hygiene risks.
The article said that three supermarkets had launched an investigation into the allegations and it also attacked the Food Standards Agency for changing reporting procedures over levels of Campylobacter found in poultry plants.
In reply, a statement from 2 Sisters said: “The allegations about our processing sites at Scunthorpe and Llangefni made in the above article 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.”
Earlier this week, the UK’s Food Standards Agency decided to publish quarterly news stories with a table showing overall cumulative distribution of levels of Campylobacter on poultry as part of the survey of poultry plans and retailers in the clamp down on campylobacter.
The FSA added that it was committed to publish an analysis that compares the performance of each retailer and each producer covered by the survey once the results from a full year’s samples we in.
“This would provide both a larger number of samples, making statistically valid comparisons possible, and would even out the effects of some potentially confounding factors such as seasonality,” the FSA said.
The safety authority added: “There is a risk that the FSA will be criticised by some consumer groups and sections of the media for having reversed its decision to publish the full data set. We nevertheless believe that the risks inherent in misinterpretation or presentation of incomplete data mean that such publication would not be in the consumers’ interest.”