The 2 Sisters scandal continues, with inquiries criticising food accreditation bodies for their inspections methods, as reported by fwi.co.uk.
An Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA)released a report over the weekend, following the undercover investigation into the Chicken processor found food safety standards were not being met. As part of the undercover ITV/Guardian investigation, workers in a plant in West Bromwich, were filmed changing slaughter dates on packages as well as picking produce up off the ground and returning it to the production line.
The report released by EFRA found that accreditation bodies, such as Red Tractor and BRC Global Services, were giving a 30-minute warning of unannounced inspections and have criticised them for their overall practices. The investigation by Efra was to find out what steps the company had taken after the allegations. It also investigated the performance of the Food Safety Authority.
Their report signalled that the accreditation system had no “systematic process” for bundling audits and assessments, while they say no single view on a plant’s standards was given.
“There is no systematic process for bringing together the various audits and assessments conducted by different accreditation and regulatory bodies,” they said. “As such, there is no single, overarching view about standards in a particular plant or facility.” it reads.
Red Tractor was named by Efra in the report, though they have since agreed to increase the number of unannounced inspections to 2Sister plants. Though the report is unsure as to the benefit of these visits.
“Even an unannounced visit gives processors a period of around 30 minutes’ grace before the inspection begins and as a result people will tend to be on their best behaviour...For an industry which takes pride in the quality of its produce, we were surprised to hear of the apparently patchwork nature of the accreditation process,” the report read.
The report found that it was “simple” for someone in the industry to hide any infractions.
“It appears relatively simple for someone to ‘game’ the system and hide infractions, while the lack of joined-up intelligence and knowledge-sharing seemingly presents many gaps into which misdemeanors can fall.” it stated.
The Efra report criticised the FSA for not being rigorous enough during inspection regimes, especially given 2 Sisters past bad hygiene records. The report suggested that all bodies need “take better account both of its management’s history and the facility’s role in the food chain and the number of farmers and suppliers who rely on it”.
2 Sisters Changes:
Neil Parish, committee chairman of Efra, said the report should act as a wake-up call for these bodies.
“Food supply chains are sensitive and easy to disrupt when retailers and consumers lose confidence in food quality or safety...Large producers and retailers have a responsibility to protect, rather than undermine, the UK’s food producers.” he said.
Meanwhile the 2 Sisters Food Group owner, Ranjit Singh Boparan, has confirmed the company have made significant changes to prevent future hygiene issues. He confirmed that a full-time FSA inspector has now been hired at the West Bromwich plant, and says one will be put in place in every plant in the country.
Mr. Singh also welcomed unannounced visits to any plant from Efra members, and says they are installing CCTV in every plant. The changes were welcomed by the Efra committee.