1.On the weekend of 29 September, The Guardian newspaper and ITN released undercover footage of activities in a poultry plant in West Bromwich run by 2 Sisters Food Group (2 Sisters). This footage was filmed in July 2017 and purported to show various examples of poor food hygiene practices and breaches of food safety legislation, including:
2.Following release of that footage, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) launched an inquiry into the plant (known as “Site D”). Separate investigations were launched by the five major retailers who contract with 2 Sisters.
3.The initial findings of the FSA investigation identified “management issues” around stock management and staff training but no regulatory breaches. Nevertheless, on 6 October the FSA’s investigation was expanded to include all eleven 2 Sisters plants in England and Wales (Food Standards Scotland separately investigating the 2 Sisters plant in Dundee).
4.2 Sisters processes around 6 million chickens each week, which is approximately one-third of the total produced in the UK. Given the importance of the 2 Sisters food group, and Site D, to the poultry food chain, the implications of the FSA’s investigation for the operation of the whole sector and the public interest in the particular case on 11 October, we agreed to hold a short inquiry into the 2 Sisters plant in West Bromwich. Decisions about whether 2 Sisters is in breach of food hygiene standards or safety regulations is properly a matter for the FSA and not for this Committee to judge. Instead, we wished to use the evidence as a case study for the performance of the regulatory system as a whole and to use this inquiry as case study of the performance of the FSA and relevant local authority in inspecting and auditing such plants.
5.We were keen to take evidence on as many different aspects of the food accreditation and regulatory supply chain as possible to encompass not just the work of the FSA but also the private sector organisations which separately audit food producers and processors in order to investigate how the FSA received and acted upon intelligence gathered elsewhere.
Accordingly, on 25 October we took evidence from three panels of witnesses:
6.We also received four pieces of written evidence from interested parties. We are grateful to all those who gave evidence to our inquiry.
1 Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer, Aldi and Lidl.
16 November 2017