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2 Sisters fires worker who was filmed changing chicken slaughter dates

A worker was filmed changing the slaughter dates on crates of chicken. Credit: ITV News/the Guardian

2 Sisters has fired a worker who was filmed changing the slaughter dates on crates of chicken meat, in what appears to be an admission by the company of a breach of food safety rules.

Last month a joint investigation by ITV News and the Guardian raised serious concerns about hygiene standards and the "use-by" dating of chicken at the 2 Sisters, Site D, processing factory in West Bromwich.

The worker - who our undercover reporter witnessed being instructed to change the dates on food safety labels - was sacked for breaking "food safety regulations".

The dismissal took place in the same week that 2 Sisters Chief Financial Officer, Richard Pike, told the company's investors that "there were no breaches of food safety regulations" at Site D.

During a conference call on October 3, the company insisted there was "no evidence" that the kill dates of chicken had been changed to extend the shelf life of meat. It also suggested our report was misleading.

Other 2 Sisters workers have told the ITV News and the Guardian that they have been instructed to alter the kill dates on meat. It is illegal to place incorrect use-by dates on food.

On Wednesday the founder, owner and CEO of 2 Sisters, Ranjit Singh Boparan, will appear before MPs to answer questions about the allegations of malpractice. 2 Sisters is the second largest food company in the UK by sales and claims to process six million chickens every week.

Marks & Spencer, Aldi, Lidl, Sainsburys and Tesco have all suspended deliveries from the 2 Sisters plant since the footage was aired last month.

2 Sisters says it took action against two workers in relation to Food Safety and Hygiene regulations. Credit: ITV News/the Guardian

The Food Standard Agency - which in July gave the Site D factory the highest possible safety rating - has announced its own investigation. The FSA is looking at 11 of 2 Sisters' factories in England and Wales, while the Scottish Food Standards Agency is looking at one factory near Dundee.

Meanwhile, Red Tractor has confirmed that it temporarily suspended the licence for 2 Sisters to use its logo following the publication of our story. Red Tractor says its subsequent "audit" of Site D uncovered "issues" but none that related to food safety.

Red Tractor says 2 Sisters has promised "corrective action". The license was suspended on October 3 and reinstated on October 9. Red Tractor says it will audit all 2 Sisters sites in the coming months.

In a statement, 2 Sisters says it took action against two workers in relation to Food Safety and Hygiene regulations.

2 Sisters says one worker "admitted guilt", was "disciplined accordingly, retrained and re-instated". The company says a second worker "denied his involvement" but was "positively identified by 10 witnesses. He was therefore dismissed for Gross Misconduct".

2 Sisters declined to comment on why the company took disciplinary action against a worker for alleged breaches of "food safety regulations" while simultaneously telling investors there had been none. The statement explained Richard Pike's comments "related to FSA statements and that had found no breaches".

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