The UK‘s largest chicken supplier 2 Sisters Food Group has been accused of altering the use-by dates of their products to extend shelf life and endangering customers.
According to an expose from The Guardian and ITV News, workers at a plant run by 2 Sisters Food – which supplies a third of all the UK‘s chicken products for the some of the country’s biggest grocers like Tesco, Sainsbury‘s, Aldi, Marks & Spencer and Lidl – were encouraged to change the labels on goods.
During the 12-day undercover investigation workers confirmed they were asked to change the slaughter dates on poultry products, meaning food processors would print incorrect use-by dates.
Footage was also captured of workers allegedly changing the dates of meat by one day. Chicken usually has a sell-by date of 10 days after slaughter.
One worker told investigators: “I have (changed the slaughter dates) lots of times when I was working in that area. My supervisor, he asked me do it… If you are buying fresh chicken it can be older chicken.”
Other findings from the expose include chickens sent back by retailers being repackaged and sent out again, and chickens being dropped on the floor and returned to the production lines – all of which would be illegal.
The five retailers who are supplied by 2 Sisters Food Group said they would launch immediate investigations and take food standards very seriously.
When presented with the evidence, the poultry giant – which is owned by billionaire Ranjit Singh Boparan alongside Foxes Biscuits and Goodfellas Pizza – told investigators the allegations were false and that they hadn‘t had sufficient time to prepare a response.
In a letter to The Guardian, the company’s legal advisors Shillings said: “Food safety and hygiene are 2 Sisters Food Group‘s top priorities.”
“To the extent that you have identified any shortcomings (which is not admitted), these could only be isolated examples which our clients would take very seriously, and they are investigating the allegations made.”
The food processor added: “2 Sisters Food Group ensures all staff are fully trained on hygiene and safety matters, and enforces a number of policies to ensure compliance with all regulations.
“It is subject to regular audits in these areas and staff have a number of ways in which to voice their concerns.
“2 Sisters Food Group has reviewed its (whistleblower hotline) records for Site D from the previous 12 months and there are no complaints from any quality assurance staff resembling those cited.”