2 Sisters Group and Faccenda reject serious allegations

2 Sisters Group and Faccenda reject serious allegations

Yesterday The Guardian published a series of allegations around campylobacter failings against two members of The British Poultry Council (BPC), 2 Sisters Food Group and Faccenda, both of which supply, amongst others, some of the UK’s biggest retailers, including Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Tesco.

The individual incidents shown appear to be breaches of good hygiene and manufacturing practice and both companies have strenously denied the allegations against them.

Processors’ reactions

Andy Dawkins, managing director of Faccenda Foods told Meat Management: “Faccenda Foods fully stands by all of our responses to The Guardian’s investigation into our farm and live bird biosecurity processes. At Faccenda Foods, we recognise the food safety challenge posed by campylobacter and the concerns of consumers in this area. Through our Campylobacter Action Plan, Faccenda Foods continues to invest significantly across the whole supply chain to address this top priority issue. Our investment in current projects to tackle campylobacter is in excess of £1million.”

2 Sisters Group responded vigourously saying: “The allegations about our processing sites at Scunthorpe and Llangefni made in the article concerning our business and our management of campylobacter are untrue, misleading and inaccurate. There is no campylobacter contamination or problems at our sites, as confirmed by multiple independent external audits and our own rigorous testing.

“We strongly deny and defend ourselves against these allegations. Our company’s heritage is steeped in the poultry sector. We are extremely proud of this heritage and our excellent track record as a poultry processor, and we will remain so. We are doing more than any other business in addressing the key issues our sector is facing and we are leading the way in establishing and enforcing industry best practice.

“To date, we have only been given limited detail of the alleged evidence which The Guardian claims to possess. However, our detailed response answers as fully as we can at this stage the specific allegations made.

“The company has an open policy to engage with key stakeholders such as local authorities, the media and Government bodies. We have also kept our customers fully informed as soon as we were contacted by The Guardian. We will be working to actively engage further with our stakeholders in the coming weeks in order to reassure them about our operations in the light of this inaccurate and misleading article.”

Faccenda’s Andy Dawkins added: “Our action plan has been proactively shared and acknowledged with the Food Standards Agency and our customers, focussing on three key areas – farm biosecurity, interventions in our factory operations and improved food safety in the kitchen.

“We have further improved biosecurity arrangements in place at all our farms working to revised Red Tractor standards. We also continue to invest in testing for routine surveillance as part of our risk assessment programme.

“We have committed significant resources to the development of innovative factory interventions to reduce campylobacter and will move to full-scale in-line trials later this year. Any change in our process will, where possible, be independently validated and our results shared with the FSA Joint Working Group on Campylobacter. Again, we will use our testing programme to monitor progress throughout this period.

“We are very proud of our working relationship with all our customers on improving food hygiene and safety in the kitchen. This includes our award-winning ‘Simply Roast In The Bag’ products, developed with Asda, which offer significant food safety benefits for consumers, by removing the need to handle raw product before cooking. We are committed to investing further to roll out the use of this technology in other products.

“Finally, we have been a leading contributor to the FSA Joint Working Group on Campylobacter reduction and continue to support this unique collaborative approach which has made a significant contribution to overall progress across the industry.

“Faccenda Foods is fully committed to a programme of process and product improvements and believe these will result in real improvements in food safety for consumers.”

BPC stands by its members

The British Poultry Council confirmed the instances will be thoroughly investigated and corrective action taken to ensure they are not repeated. BPC also commented that it saw the incidents as isolated events and in no way representative of the high standards of the chicken industry as a whole.

In its statement it said: “Food safety is the top priority for British Poultry Council members. The members concerned have strenuously denied the allegations accompanying the images, and have restated their commitment to producing safe food for all their customers. The BPC stands beside them in their commitment to customer service excellence.”

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