West Midlands Police have decided not to pursue any further action against 2 Sisters after reviewing evidence of alleged food safety breaches at the company’s West Bromwich plant.
The decision was revealed in a new Food Standards Agency (FSA) report which updated MPs on the progress 2 Sisters had made in improving its processes after an undercover investigation appeared to show workers changing the kill dates of poultry.
The report said: “Whilst the FSA investigation found some weaknesses in compliance with official controls, these issues were addressed promptly by the company, and at no point during the investigation did we find activities in place which led us to issuing enforcement notices nor suspending approval for the production or distribution of poultry from these cutting plants.”
As a result of these findings, the FSA has made the decision to withdraw its full-time presence at all 2 Sisters poultry cutting plants.
The company will continue to provide full access to CCTV and share the results of its mystery worker activity.
A 2 Sisters spokesman said: “We welcome the publication of the FSA investigative report and we fully support its outcomes and recommendations.
“Not only did we act swiftly on remedying the situation once alerted last year, we have led the way with new initiatives to ensure trust and transparency are maintained within the industry.
“For example, we are the only UK food business to publish all of its audit outcomes and are introducing independently monitored CCTV at all of our cutting plants.
“We look forward to continuing an open and positive dialogue with the FSA and other regulatory bodies.”
The FSA has, however, decided to launch a comprehensive review of hygiene controls at meat processing plants as a result of the issues at 2 Sisters.
The review aims to increase public confidence in the meat industry, improve the ability to find and tackle non-compliance issues and assess how the industry operates across the whole supply chain.
Proposals under consideration include unannounced inspections and audit regimes, as well as a voluntary protocol for CCTV in processing plants, which could become mandatory.
Pilots will also be run to improve data and intelligence sharing across the industry and the National Food Crime Unit could see its investigatory powers beefed up.
Jason Feeney and Geoff Ogle, chief executives of FSA and FSS said: “Our review will be far reaching and thorough and we will announce our initial findings in June.
“We are pleased that the meat industry representatives who we met with have pledged their full and effective engagement with the review.”