In a statement, 2 Sisters said it had been made aware of several allegations made by The Guardian/ITV in relation to an audit report at its Coupar Angus site in Scotland, which had been commissioned by Tesco, and took the allegations extremely seriously.
“However, ITV and The Guardian are referring to standard inspection audits and appear to be trying to damage the reputation of our factories and potentially the livelihoods of 23,000 colleagues by misrepresenting them.
“There is and never was any risk to food safety at Coupar Angus. This is using old news to highlight issues which were resolved with our customer two months ago.”
At the same time, 2 Sisters has announced that it will become the first in the industry to publish UK poultry audit data to provide greater transparency within the food supply chain as well as giving consumers the necessary assurance about the safety, quality and provenance of their food.
Earlier this autumn, the agriculture select committee raised a concern at the lack of joined up intelligence and knowledge sharing across the food industry among manufacturers, regulators and retailers.
2 Sisters said that since 1 July there had been 150 audits/inspections at its processing sites – 114 of which were unannounced. These had identified a number of areas of improvements but no food safety issues.
All of its sites were graded using the British Retail Consotium system and scored between A, achieved for example at its Willand plant, Cullompton, Devon to the highest AA, achieved at Llangefni, Wales. The BRC grade audits from AA to D.
The latest allegations against 2 Sisters highlighted the performance of the Coupar Angus plant in Perth and Kinross, which leaked documents showed Tesco’s auditing team giving a “red” warning after uncovering “major” issues of non-compliance in five different areas.
The problems reported in the document leaked to the Guardian and ITV included:
• Organic and non-organic chicken being mixed;
• A computer system allowing all factory workers to change use-by dates;
• Instance of double labelling or no labelling;
• “Serious issues” with records designed to account for chickens earmarked for disposal;
• “Failed” efforts to trace chicken recorded as being despatched from the plant.