Food Safety Body Launches Investigation into Poultry Plants

UK - The British Food Standards Agency (FSA) has launched investigations and audits into poultry plants at the centre of a food hygiene row published in a national newspaper.
calendar icon 28 July 2014
clock icon 5 minute read

The move by the FSA follows up the evidence highlighted by The Guardian’s investigations at 2 Sisters plants in Anglesey and Scunthorpe.

This has included reviewing the video footage and photographs of three specific incidents at the plants and checking these against our own records.

“We are satisfied that the specific problems at the plants were addressed in an appropriate manner by the business at the time and did not present a food safety risk,” the FSA said.

“However, The Guardian investigation highlighted broader concerns about practices at the plants, including chickens that have fallen onto the floor being put back on production lines.

“Given these allegations we are conducting audits and investigations at the plants. These are underway and the findings will be published in due course.

“We have been reiterating our advice to consumers that campylobacter can occur on chickens even when the highest standards of farming and processing are followed.

“Consumers should follow good hygiene practice at home, including not washing raw chicken, to minimise the risk.

“We continue to work with the industry to ensure that steps are taken to reduce the levels of campylobacter on chicken sold or served in the UK.”

Before the FSA launched the investigation on Friday, the company at the centre of the row, 2 Sisters, issued a statement to outline the actions it had taken.

“In light of yesterday’s Guardian investigation, we understand the concern consumers may have when confronted with images and information without being aware of the fuller picture, or indeed without knowledge of the great work our colleagues are doing each day,” the company said.

“We are outlining today the measures we are taking to ensure we remain as a trusted partner of our customers and the end consumer.

“In short, 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:

  • TACKLING CAMPYLOBACTER - We are fully aware that campylobacter food poisoning is an issue for the whole poultry industry and one which needs to be tackled. We remain at the forefront of industry initiatives designed at reducing the number of cases. In November 2013, we launched the UK’s biggest ever independent study into campylobacter, costing £6m and collecting data from 124m birds. This study has been praised as sector-leading by the FSA. Campylobacter is a recognised industry-wide problem. It is not specific to us but we are taking the lead in tackling it. A recent FSA retail pilot study showed that Scunthorpe had far surpassed the FSA’s 2013 target for contamination. NB: It is worth noting again that even where campylobacter is present, it is killed during thorough cooking of poultry products.
  • WORKING WITH OUR CUSTOMERS – We are working closely with our customers to ensure we maintain the highest food safety and hygiene standards. Our customers regularly make announced and unannounced visits, but we are working with them to reassure them that our processes and procedures are best in class
  • COMMITMENT TO TRAINING – Our factories operates a robust training and induction plan that is delivered to both permanent and agency staff prior to starting work. All colleagues are trained in accordance with all specific policies and procedures. As part of the induction process all participants are subject to a Food Safety Test and anyone who fails to meet the requirements is spoken to individually, informed that they failed to meet the necessary requirements and, as such, any offer of employment is withdrawn. On-going training and refresher courses are available to colleagues and team leaders
  • RE-INFORCING HYGIENE EXCELLENCE - Our colleagues are rightly proud of the work they do and perceived breaches of hygiene standards can of course dent this pride. That’s why we have launched a proactive campaign this week at our sites to reinforce the messages around the importance of hygiene, which consist of team briefings and a refreshed communications campaign
  • STAKEHOLDER SUPPORT – The Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the British Poultry Council (BPC) have been fully supportive. The FSA has backed our approach at our factories and supported our campylobacter study.”

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