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News Archive > General > Meat processor halts production after sting

Meat processor halts production after sting

By Natasha Swift 4th October 2017

Meat processor halts production after sting

THE UK’s largest supplier of supermarket chicken, which owns the St Merryn Foods factory in Roche, has suspended production at one of its processing plant after undercover filming revealed serious food hygiene and labelling concerns.

The 2 Sisters Food Group, which acquired St Merryn Foods following the purchase of VION in 2013 and has a retail packing factory near Roche and a beef processing plant at St Merryn, is at the centre of a food hygiene scandal after a joint Guardian and ITV News investigation revealed food safety records being altered at a West Midlands plants.

The food giant has suspended production at one of its main processing plants after Marks and Spencer, Lidl, Aldi, Tesco and Sainsbury’s cancelled their supplies.

An undercover reporter, showed workers changing both the slaughter date and the source codes on crates of chicken crowns to extend the meat’s shelf life.

The ITV News report said this would have made the chicken almost untraceable in the event of an outbreak of food poisoning.

The reporter also claims to have seen workers returning chicken to the production line after it had fallen onto the floor despite the risk of contamination and meat of different ages being mixed together.

The reporter also filmed Tesco’s exclusive Willow Farms range being topped up with drumsticks that were originally packaged for Lidl.

Following the investigation, the chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee, Neil Parish, said he was considering a "short, sharp parliamentary inquiry" into food safety at the company.

The 2 Sisters Food Group (2SFG) said it will now put employees at the plant through a retraining programme.

A spokesman for 2SFG, which supplies a third of all poultry products eaten in the UK, said: “We are shocked and distressed by the allegations and the footage which we saw for the first time on Thursday, September 28.

“Since the allegations were put to us by the Guardian and ITV, we have been working around the clock to get to the truth of the matter.

“We responded immediately by launching our own internal investigation at our West Bromwich plant and invited the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to independently review our standards.

“The FSA has been in daily attendance since the allegations were raised and confirmed that it has not identified any breaches.

“However, our internal investigation has shown some isolated instances of non-compliance with our own Quality management systems.

“We have therefore decided to temporarily suspend operations at the site to allow us the time to retrain all colleagues including management in all Food safety and Quality management systems.

“All colleagues will remain on full pay and will attend site whilst training is undertaken.

“We will only recommence supply once we are satisfied that our colleagues have been appropriately retrained.

“We continue to work closely with the FSA and our customers throughout this period.

“We remain committed to ensuring that we operate to the highest standards of hygiene and food safety, and we act with honesty and integrity at all times.”

By Natasha Swift 4th October 2017

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