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MPs say problems at 2 Sisters “are not a one-off”

The damning inquiry into the 2 Sisters plant in West Bromwich shows systematic failings with the way our food is inspected. It says that “unannounced visits” are not a surprise and therefore don’t give a true picture of the violations occurring.

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee launched their inquiry following an undercover operation by The Guardian and ITN.

The Efra report notes:

  • That there is "no systematic process for bringing together the various audits and assessments conducted by different accreditation and regulatory bodies; as such there is no single overarching view about standards in a particular plant or facility."
  • "After Assured Food Standards suspended 2 Sisters' Red Tractor accreditation it did not immediately and especially inform the Food Standards Agency."
  • That "unannounced visits are not completely a surprise; 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."
  • "The problems identified at the 2 Sisters plant at West Bromwich are not a one-off. The past record of the 2 Sisters Food Group is far from pristine and there are valid questions to be asked of its corporate governance structure.”

The inquiry is very critical of food safety inspections; which involves the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and local authorities. Neil Parish MP was the Chair of the report:

"Our inquiry should serve as a wakeup call for all accreditation firms and cause them to improve their processes and remove any loopholes that may exist, not just those discovered through our inquiry. 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.”


A spokesperson for the FSA said: “The FSA welcomes the findings of the Efra select committee and will make a formal response in due course. We are continuing to investigate the allegations made by ITV and the Guardian concerning the 2 Sisters poultry plant in West Bromwich and will publish our findings when the work is completed.”

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Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, promote equity and enrich society and culture.