2 Sisters Food Group manager was due to appear before a parliamentary committee hearing this month.
Ranjit Singh Boparan had been summoned to give evidence following claims of food safety, hygiene as well as welfare breaches at the company’s West Bromwich factory.
The hearing scheduled for October 25, was going to take place before the EFRA Committee, and hear Boparan, The Food Standards Agency (FSA), Assured Food Standards as well as the British Poultry Council give evidence.
According to EFRA, the short probe was going to look at the possible consequences of the allegations made against the company not only for the poultry sector, but also the wider food chain. Apart from that, it would inquire into the regulatory and accreditation bodies’ role in maintaining food standards as well as food safety.
Chairman Neil Parish further said: “The committee has been closely monitoring reports about malpractice at the 2 Sisters Food Group, and considers an inquiry into the allegations of food safety breaches at its processing plants to be a matter of urgency.
Inquiry will help the company to rectify the situation
Parish concluded: “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.”
Although 2 Sisters confirmed Boparan having been summoned to the hearing, they did not want to make further comments on the matter.
The inquiry comes after a clandestine joint investigation carried out by The Guardian and ITV News. They alleged that apart from hygiene and welfare breaches, chickens which were returned by supermarket supply centres were being repackaged and then taken back to retailers.
The calling of the hearing was decided on after FSA extending its investigation into the firm’s poultry factories in England and Wales. This came after its preliminary probe actually revealed “issues requiring management attention.”
Meanwhile, the West Bromwich plant has remained closed and several retailers have suspended their deliveries from the firm.
Issues calling for management attention
The FSA and the local authority’s preliminary inspection of the company’s West Bromwich factory had failed to detect food safety issues. However, it reportedly “highlighted issues requiring management attention, for example relating to some aspects of staff training and stock control.”
FSA chairman Heather Hancock further said: “Although our initial inspection found no risk to public health, we are broadening our investigations until we are satisfied that this is truly the case. I’m disappointed that ITN and The Guardian have not yet provided the information that they committed to share and I would urge anyone who has evidence to share to bring it directly to us.”