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2 Sisters owner 'warned about food safety breaches eight years ago'

Ranjit Singh Boparan, the owner and chief executive of 2 Sisters Food Group, was allegedly told eight years ago that staff at one of his factories were "fiddling" the dates on fresh chicken.

Jack Dromey MP has told ITV News that he warned Ranjit Singh Boparan about practices at the company during a face-to-face meeting in December 2009.

At the time Dromey was the Deputy General Secretary of the Unite union. He recalls meeting with Boparan to discuss the reinstatement of 59 workers who the company had sacked from its Site A facility in Smethwick for taking unofficial strike action. This site has since been closed.

At the meeting, Dromey says he presented Boparan with concerns about the re-labeling of chicken meat.

Inside 2 Sisters plant Site D. Credit: ITV News/the Guardian

Dromey claims he told Boparan in 2009 he had "clear evidence from [Boparan's] workers that the dating of chicken meat was being fiddled...changing the dates to sell chicken to the supermarkets when they should have been throwing that chicken away".

Dromey says at no point during the conversation did Boparan deny that the re-labeling of chicken had been happening.

"He didn't for one minute demur from anything I said...he accepted that there were practices within the company that he said the company was already addressing and they were determined to clean up their act. "

Shortly after the meeting in 2009, 2 Sisters agreed to reinstate the 59 workers and the dispute came to an end. Dromey's contact with 2 Sisters ended when he was elected MP for Birmingham Erdington in 2010.

A week ago an investigation by ITV News and the Guardian raised serious concerns about poor food safety standards at a 2 Sisters factory, Site D, in West Bromwich.

In one instance, our undercover reporter filmed "date of kill" labels being changed on crates of chicken crown to disguise the age of the meat.

Dromey claims that in 2009 the same practice was taking place at a different 2 Sisters factory, Site A, which closed in June this year.

Undercover footage from inside a 2 Sisters factory. Credit: ITV News/the Guardian

2 Sisters declined our invitation to comment on Jack Dromey's allegations relating to Site A and his meeting with Boparan. In a statement the company said "Site D was subject to regular, often unannounced, audits in the weeks preceding [the ITV/Guardian] investigation. None of these audits have identified any issues or any breaches of regulations."

In a conference call to investors three days ago, 2 Sisters said the footage which had been broadcast was "misleading" and insisted there was an innocent explanation for the relabelling we filmed.

The Site D factory remains closed while the workforce is retrained in "food safety and quality management".

Tesco, Sainsbury's, ALDI, Lidl and Marks and Spencer have suspended deliveries from the plant but continue to source fresh chicken from elsewhere in the 2 Sisters group.

Yesterday the chief executive of Tesco, Dave Lewis, told ITV News that every other 2 Sisters site had been inspected by the supermarket since our report and had been given the all clear.

The Food Standards Agency is expanding the investigation it launched, after the publication of our report, to all 12 factories in 2 Sisters' UK Poultry operation. The regulator said it had identified issues with "aspects of staff training and stock control".

2 Sisters says it will "welcome our FSA colleagues at any location they wish to inspect in the coming days".