British poultry manufacturer 2 Sisters Food Group has been fined $176,000 for printing the wrong expiration dates on cooked chicken products manufactured at its facility in Haughley Park, Suffolk.
Mid Suffolk District Council brought charges against the company after it found out that employees at the facility were giving products a two-week shelf life, while the Food Standards Agency (FSA) only recommends 10 days for vacuum and modified atmosphere-packed chilled foods. A longer shelf life may be a threat to consumers because it increases the risk of botulism, the council explained.
After the inspection council officials issued a Remedial Action Notice, which required the company to change the expiry dates it put on packages, but a subsequent inspection revealed that this had not been done. In addition, 2 Sisters was found to have hidden batches of cooked chicken with the wrong expiry date, some of which was later discovered at retail stores by health officials.
Mid Suffolk District Council added that the company had deliberately delayed submitting product records that officials requested during the inspection, providing these seven weeks later. Eventually, the records showed that substantial amounts of the product had been distributed, making it almost impossible to trace these in the supply chain.
At the hearing at Ipswich Crown Court, the company was fined $176,000 after admitting three offenses including failing to comply with the council's orders and failing to introduce an appropriate food safety management system.