The U.K.’s largest supplier of chicken is being investigated after reports the company breached food safety rules.
Workers at a West Midlands factory were found changing the dates on chickens to artificially extend its shelf life.
Footage from an undercover investigation by ITV News and the Guardian reveals how workers at the plant were changing the slaughter dates of poultry and mixing chickens slaughtered on different dates on the production line. Changing the slaughter dates means the use-by dates on the poultry would be incorrect—making the products hard to find if there was an outbreak of food poisoning.
The 2 Sisters Food Group supplies a third of all chicken products in the U.K., according to the report, including to Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer, Aldi, and Lidl.
The Food Standards Agency has launched an investigation into the 2 Sisters Food Group. Its inspectors found no evidence of breaches, but the FSA said it will continue to review the evidence and have called for anyone with additional information relating to the investigation to contact it.
Heather Hancock, chairman of the FSA said: “It is the responsibility of a food business to ensure that the food it sells is safe and what it says it is. We take any allegations of inaccurate labelling and breaches in hygiene regulations very seriously,”
She added, “Should we find any evidence of any risk to public health, any products on the market, which we believe to be a cause of concern will be urgently removed from sale.”
The investigation also found that workers put the chicken on the production line after it had fallen on the floor, and filmed Tesco’s “exclusive” Willow Farms range being packaged with drumsticks that were originally packaged for Lidl.
Around 20 workers spoke with ITV News and the Guardian, confirming that such practices were taking place.
All affected retailers said they would launch an immediate investigation, reports said. Marks & Spencer, Aldi, and Lidl have dropped chickens supplied by 2 Sisters from their stores.
Ranjit Boparan and his wife Baljinder,own 2 Sisters. They are worth £544m according to the Sunday Times Rich List.
Their factories also produce food for other brands, including Fox’s biscuits and Goodfella’s pizza.
The company issued a statement writing they are viewing the allegations “extremely seriously.”
“If, on presentation of further evidence, it comes to light any verifiable transgressions have been made at any of our sites, we will leave no stone unturned in investigating and remedying the situation immediately,” the statement said.