Red Tractor bosses summoned in poultry scandal inquiry

MPs will quiz Red Tractor farm assurance bosses as part of an urgent inquiry into alleged food safety breaches at the 2 Sisters Food Group.

The House of Commons environment food and rural affairs committee announced the inquiry following reports of malpractice at the 2 Sisters poultry plant in West Bromwich.

It comes after undercover footage obtained by the Guardian and ITN showed workers at the plant changing kill dates on crates of poultry.

See also: Farmers ‘may pay price of 2 Sisters poultry scandal’

Footage also showed workers mixing batches of old and new stock.

Much of the chicken produced by 2 Sisters is sold bearing the Red Tractor logo – the quality marque which also appears on a range of other British farm products.

The inquiry will look into the role and performance of the food standards and safety regulatory and accreditation bodies, including the Red Tractor farm assurance scheme.

Potential ramifications

It will also examine the potential ramifications of the allegations made against 2 Sisters for the poultry sector and the wider food chain, including farmers.

Evidence will be sought from Assured Food Standards – the company that licenses the Red Tractor quality marque and certification programme – on 25 October.

MPs will also question 2 Sisters Food Group owner Ranjit Singh Boparan and representatives from the Food Standards Agency and the British Poultry Council.

Efra committee chairman Neil Parish said: “Public confidence in our domestic food standards is central to the success of the UK’s agri-food industry.

‘Matter of urgency’

The committee had been closely monitoring reports about malpractice at the 2 Sisters Food Group, said Mr Parish.

MPs considered an inquiry into the allegations of food safety breaches at the company’s processing plants to be “a matter of urgency,” he added.

“We hope that looking into the causes of any breaches will allow 2 Sisters to rectify the situation and put in place safeguards that mean similar incidents do not happen again.

“It’s vital that lessons learned in our inquiry inform the wider industry, contribute to higher food standards across the UK and restore the confidence in both food and farming across the UK.”

Assured Food Standards has already suspended the 2 Sisters West Bromwich site from its Red Tractor scheme pending the outcome of its own inquiries.

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