Tesco has become the latest grocer to boycott 2 Sisters Food Group, forcing the poultry manufacturer to halt production in one of its main factories.
Last week, a joint expose from the Guardian and ITV News revealed images of workers at the group’s West Bromwich plant allegedly changing the sell by dates on poultry.
The footage also showed workers allegedly dropping meat on the floor and returning it to the production line, and repacking returned products for resale.
Following the expose, the Food Standards Agency and five of the UK‘s largest grocers supplied by the company launched their own investigations.
In addition, Marks & Spencer, Aldi and Lidl all announced that they would be suspending shipments from the company a day after the story broke. Sainsbury‘s followed suit a day later.
Tesco initially held off on joining the boycott, opting to send its own inspectors inside the factory, but yesterday it announced it would also be halting deliveries from 2 Sisters.
“We are shocked and distressed by the allegations and the footage which we saw for the first time on Thursday 28 September,” 2 Sisters told the Guardian.
“Since the allegations were put to us by the Guardian/ITV, we have been working around the clock to get to the truth of the matter.
“The Food Standards Agency 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.”
A Tesco spokesperson added: “We‘d like to reassure customers our initial investigation supported the Food Standards Agency‘s findings that there was no current evidence of breach of food safety procedures.
“However, there have been isolated incidents where food quality procedures have not been followed and therefore, in agreement with 2 Sisters we have decided to suspend all orders from Site D so that staff can receive further training.
“We will not be taking any more chicken from the site until this has been addressed and all processes are carried out to the highest standard.”
The company‘s billionaire founder Ranjit Singh Boparan, who also owns brands like Goodfellas Pizza, Bernard Matthews and Foxes Biscuits, is set to answer questions in Westminster over the allegations.
2 Sisters reportedly produces around 6 million chickens a week and around a third of the UK‘s poultry supply.