The UK’s biggest poultry supplier is facing allegations of fraudulently editing use-by dates, and the scandal will leave one in five consumers blaming your store.
That was the warning from the National Farmers Union following an undercover investigation by The Guardian and ITV into Two Sisters Food Group.
It alleged that gross breaches of food safety codes are frequently committed by the company, which produces one third of all poultry products in the country. These breaches include resending rejected stock back to wholesalers and changing kill-dates in order to mislead consumers over the age of the meat.
Brands owned by Two Sisters Group include convenience store favourites like Goodfella’s Pizza. The company also supplies own-label ranges for Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Aldi and Lidl.
The Food Fraud Report published by the NFU said 20% of consumers blame retailers for incidents such as this. Retail sector specialist at the NFU Frank Wood said the survey shows the “responsibility many people place on retailers to thoroughly assess the produce they sell.”
Two Sisters Group described the chicken scandal allegations made against it as “false” and outlined the checks and inspections its produce goes through in order to be sold.
With mad cow disease, foot and mouth, bird flu, swine flu and the horse meat scandal all previously influencing consumer buying habits and confidence, another bout of negative headlines is likely to further damage a meat industry already in decline. Half the British public either vegetarian, vegan or cutting back on their meat consumption.
Simon Lunn from Simply Fresh Weare in Somerset said he focuses on local produce in his store. “We only stock chicken from our local butcher which gives us traceability. By using a local butcher as a supplier, our customers can trust us.”
Lunn added that poor supply chain visibility by multiples could give convenience retailers using local produce the edge. “Larger supermarkets with various scandals over the years have possibly benefited local butchers, who while unable to compete on price, do have a better quality of their products,” he said.
Two Sisters Food Group refused to comment when contacted by Retail Express.