Iceland accused of “astonishing” food safety misconduct by BBC’s Watchdog

Iceland has been accused by BBC One’s Watchdog of leaving meat and milk products out of the fridge for over 14 hours.

After an anonymous former Iceland manager informed the BBC that deliveries to Iceland were “taken off the back of the lorry, put out the back and left there”, instead of being returned to a controlled temperature.

An undercover reporter for the programme was tasked with unloading the days delivery, but was told not to prioritise the chilled foods, which were subsequently left out for over 14 hours without being refrigerated.

Guidelines from the Food Standards Agency state that chilled food should never be left unrefrigerated for more than two hours and should never rise above eight degrees.

Staff were then filmed explaining tricks to make it seem as if food had been put away more quickly.

“This is as bad as I’ve seen or come across in 40 years of working,” chartered environmental health practitioner Barrie Travena told the programme.

“If it was a one-off it would be a bad enough but in fact it seems to be an ongoing situation, so it indicates that really they don’t have enough resources or are not putting enough resources into it.

“I can’t say that I’ve ever come across food that’s been out of refrigeration for so long in a national company.”

In response to the report a spokesman for Iceland said: “We have thoroughly investigated Watchdog’s allegations and are completely confident that this programme is entirely unrepresentative of our usual practice and that there are no generic issues with temperature control within Iceland.

“This is simply illustrated by the extremely low level of customer complaints we receive. In the last six-months we sold more than one billion food products in the UK, and complaints about our chilled food and virtually non-existent.

“The vast majority of our stores, including the one featured in the programme, have 5/5 food hygiene ratings from their local authorities.”

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