Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer are investigating the source of their chicken products after an investigation by the Guardian newspaper poor hygiene practices that can ease the spread of campylobacter – the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK.
Undercover reporting in chicken processing facilities of two of the UK’s largest poultry firms – Sisters Food Group and Faccenda – have raised crucial questions on food hygiene and contamination.
Footage revealed carcasses falling on the floor or coming in contact with equipment and workers’ boots, being repeatedly put back on the production line, factory floors flooded with chickens guts and other poor practices that ease the spread of bacteria.
Campylobacter is of particular concern, affecting around two-thirds of British chickens. Despite the bacteria usually being killed during cooking, it can still contaminate people and it in fact poisons around 280,000 people in the UK each year.
Executive director of consumer group Which? Richard Lloyd, commented, “The Guardian’s investigation raises serious concerns. Tackling campylobacter has to become a much bigger priority for supermarkets and their suppliers as it is responsible for thousands of cases of food poisoning and the deaths of 100 people every year.”
Some supermarkets have launched an immediate investigation into their chicken suppliers.
Retailer M&S said, “We take food safety very seriously and regularly audit all of our suppliers to ensure that they meet our strict codes of practice. We do not tolerate any alleged breach of our standards and have launched an immediate investigation.”
One of the poultry processors involved in the allegations, Sisters Food Group has replied saying the reports are “untrue, misleading and inaccurate”.
“We strongly deny and defend ourselves against these allegations. Our company’s heritage is steeped in the poultry sector. We are extremely proud of this heritage and our excellent track record as a poultry processor, and we will remain so”, the company said in a statement.
Photo: qmnonic via flickr