CEO Apologizes for Alleged Lax Food Safety Standards at 2 Sisters Plant in UK
Ranjit Singh Boparan’s company was embroiled in a controversy after an undercover investigation revealed alleged malpractices at a chicken plant.
Ranjit Singh Boparan, the Birmingham-based CEO of 2 Sisters Food Group, apologized in front of a special committee at the House of Commons, saying he was “absolutely committed to improving food safety”. The multi-billion dollar chicken supplying firm to retail chains like Tesco, M&S, Aldi, Lidl and others was caught in a controversy after a worker was filmed changing “kill dates” on products.
The group had initially denied the food safety regulation breach during a call to investors on Oct. 3, reported the Guardian. However, the employee who was filmed by an undercover ITV and The Guardian reporter was fired the same week. The video was taken at a West Bromwich plant owned by the largest supermarket supplier of chicken.
“We absolutely apologize for the doubt this has caused to our customers, consumers and employees,” Boparan told MPs of the parliamentary committee on Oct. 25. “These four weeks have been very difficult for a lot of people. Mistakes happen but what we try to do is learn from the mistakes and put them right,” he was quoted by PTI as saying.
The chairman of the committee, Neil Parish, said: “What he said today was recorded and is on the record. I accept his word that he will improve and put things right. But God help him if he’s got to come here again and he hasn’t put it right.”
The video also showed a worker putting back chicken that had fallen on the floor into the production line. Other workers interviewed by the reporter had also said that they were given instructions to change “kill dates”, which can increase the sell dates of the products. The reporter also claimed to have seen workers mixing produce of different ages.
The supermarkets Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Aldi and Lidl stopped their purchases from 2 sisters after the alleged breaches were found.
Measures to Improve Food Safety
The Bilston-born Boparan said that a mystery worker will be appointed to go and hold unannounced investigations to ensure that safety checks were being followed. Workers who were currently given a four-hour orientation every three years will now have to undergo an eight-hour orientation every year, he said.
He also told MPs on the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee: “I invite all of you to my factories. Come announced or unannounced…I can’t accept that you say we have low standards, because we have high standards.”
The group said that it would hold an investigation and invited the Food Standards Authority to independently review its standards. He also said he would fund independent investigation of all 12 of his sites.