Owner of 2 Sisters Food Group to appear before MPs in inquiry over alleged food safety breaches
MPs will hear from the owner of the UK’s largest supplier of supermarket chicken today as part of an inquiry into allegations of food safety breaches.
Ranjit Singh Boparan, chief executive and owner of 2 Sisters Food Group, which has two sites in East Anglia, will be questioned by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Efra) Committee after an undercover investigation allegedly revealed a string of health and safety breaches.
The hearing will also take evidence from representatives of the Food Standards Agency (FSA), the British Poultry Council and Assured Food Standards, which promotes and regulates food quality and licenses the Red Tractor quality mark.
An undercover reporter working at a West Midlands site of 2 Sisters claimed to witness workers tampering with slaughter dates and mixing meat of different ages.
Source codes on crates of meat were also changed, the investigation by ITV News and The Guardian claimed.
The practices can artificially extend the shelf life of meat, and make it untraceable in the event of an outbreak of food poisoning.
2 Sisters responded by launching its own internal investigation at its West Bromwich plant and inviting the FSA to independently review its standards.
The FSA said at the time that it had found no evidence of breaches during an inspection of the plant but that it was still reviewing evidence.
The allegations led to Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Aldi and Lidl suspending buying chicken from the plant, but did not rule out sourcing meat from 2 Sisters’ other processing facilities.
Efra committee chairman Neil Parish said: “We hope that looking into the recent reports of malpractice at the 2 Sisters plant will assist in rectifying the situation and putting in place safeguards that mean similar incidents do not happen again.
“This case highlights how important it is for the regulatory and accreditation bodies to work together effectively and restore confidence in both public food hygiene and farming across the country.”
2 Sisters was founded in 1993 and now produces one third of all of the poultry products consumed in the UK, and had revenues of £3.1bn in 2016.