Food Safety chiefs have been told they are the ones culpable for the low standards exposed during the recent 2 Sisters Food Group Scandal, as reported by FWI.co.uk.
BRC Global Standards chief executive, Mark Proctor, and technical director, David Brackston, were questioned on the scandal by the House of Commons Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Efra). This was followed by evidence from Food Standards Agency (FSA) chief executive, Jason Feeney after he was summoned by MP’s to give evidence.
The inquiry was held by MPs following the release of undercover footage of the processing plants, by the Guardian and ITV as part of their investigation into the poultry processor. The footage was obtained during a 12 day period, and workers were shown of workers dropping produce on the production line. Footage also showed workers changing slaughter dates on batches of the 2Sisters Chicken.
A day-long session was held in Westminster and Neil Parish, Efra Committee Chairman, who said the breaches were a serious food health issue. He said it presented an issue for both consumers and the supply chain. Mr. Parish said this incident should not have happened whatsoever, comparing it to the horse meat scandal.
“This should not have happened and all of you are culpable one way or another.”, he said.
“It was not only 2 Sisters that was at fault, it was the regulatory process too,” he added.
The morning session heard that the 2Sisters Plant was suspended from the Red Tractor Assurance scheme for a period of one week, this before being reinstated. The investigations were carried out by BRC Global Standards on behalf of the Assured Food Standards.
The decision to reinstate the company was defended by the BRC Global Standards technical director, Mr Brackston.
“We went and assessed the factory, understood what they had learned and put in place since the incident, [including] the extensive retraining of staff,” he said.
Mr. Brackston added that the certification inspectors in charge were unable to find anything at the time of this visit to suggest the issues were still occurring.
“We did a thorough assessment of the [training] process and on that basis, we were able to continue the certification with a programme in place to follow that up over the coming weeks.”, he continued.
Mr. Parish said the MPs had not heard much, which could reassure them that the situation has improved or that these breaches will not occur again. Mr. Parish said the assurance organisations were asked on a number of occasions of what preventative measures they are carrying out to ensure there is no repeat situation.
“We heard very little this morning to reassure us that the situation is any better.”, Mr. Parish said.
Mr. Parish said It was “mind-boggling” that the FSA had not known anything about what was happening at 2 Sisters until the investigation. The FSA responded, saying they hadn’t received any information in relation to the plant.
“What I said, was we hadn’t received any intelligence in relation to this plant.”, said FSA chief executive Mr. Feeney.
The inquiry heard that the most recent inspection, Held on July 19th, saw the FSA recommend the factory improves their procedures. It also heard that the inspection had not found the plant to be a “high-risk” plant.
“We admit they are serious allegations [and] we are establishing whether those allegations are substantiated,” he added.