Poultry firm wins appeal against FSA

Poultry firm wins appeal against FSA

Summers Poultry Products based in Warwickshire has won an appeal against the Food Standards Agency (FSA), which had decided to withdraw approval for the business to operate as an abattoir. The FSA sought the closure of the plant following alleged ‘operational deficiencies’. This is the first case under new procedures introduced by FSA.

Jamie Foster, a partner with solicitors Clarke Willmott, which represents Summers Poultry, said that an appeal can take around five months before coming to magistrates court, which would almost certainly have closed the business over the interim period, if it was not able operate.

He commented: “This was the first case under new procedures introduced by FSA, which now prevent a businesses that had its approval withdrawn from operating, even if they have lodged an appeal. Under the previous regime, as long as an appeal was lodged, the company could still operate until a judgement was made. This is no longer the case.

“We therefore went to the High Court and obtained an injunction which allowed Summers Poultry Products to operate whilst the appeal was prepared. Considering the period of time involved, had we not secured an injunction the business would have failed putting many people out of work.”

Jamie Foster

Jamie Foster: “The district judge hearing the case confirmed that the FSA had misunderstood the law."

Ironically, over the period concerned, the British Retail Consortium was conducting  audits at the plant and had granted Summers Poultry ‘A grade’ accreditation, in complete contradiction to the FSA’s assessment.

Jamie Foster added: “The district judge hearing the case confirmed that the FSA had misunderstood the law, as the court actually had to consider the state of the factory at the time of the hearing, and not at the time when the approval was withdrawn. It a shame that the withdrawal of approval route was chosen by FSA, rather than taking the opportunity to work with the operator to find a solution to any alleged problems.”

Summers Poultry has consistently insisted there were never any serious deficiencies with the plant, which slaughters around 100,000 chickens a week for the Halal market.

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