Chicken horror: new ‘rotten’ wings claim

2010-12-26 09:52

The company at the centre of the frozen chicken scandal was putting out more fires this weekend amid allegations that 14-month-old chicken wings classified as “rotten” had passed initial quality control and entered their reworking plant.

An internal safety management system document in possession of City Press shows 912kg of “rotten” chicken wings entered Supreme Poultry’s reprocessing plant in Botshabelo outside Bloemfontein in June this year.

The company claims the chicken wings were destroyed. ­Supreme Poultry says it can provide supporting documents to prove this, but when City Press asked to see them, Supreme’s marketing manager, John Neilson, declined. “We are willing to participate in any credible, independent audit of our food safety procedures,” he said.

Supreme’s Tish Stewart said the document was “only the first step in a carefully managed and recorded process, a ­process that in this instance led to the product in question being destroyed”.

According to sources with close know­ledge of the process, expired chicken is sent back to Supreme’s Botshabelo plant, where it is inspected. It could either go to the rendering plant, where the products are reworked to bone meal, or to the reworking plant where a safety management system form is completed and the chicken is thawed; injected with brine; frozen and repackaged.

According to the document in the ­possession of City Press the 70 cases or 912kg of chicken wings were produced in April 2009. The expiry date of the ­products was April this year.

On June 8 2010 a “pallet” (platform) containing the 70 cases was sent back to Supreme and entered into the food safety management system. Out of four options for what should happen to the chicken, the employee responsible circled “reworks to processing” (the other options were: “rescaling”, “cancellation of pallets” and “half pallets”).

Under “reason for the above procedure” the Supreme employee wrote:
“Rotten products from cold storage”.

A new production date for the pallet was entered as June 8 2010.

Although Supreme admitted from the start it was reworking chicken products that had expired, it added this week the reworked products are not sent back to two of its biggest clients, Pick n Pay and Shoprite Checkers.
It said the ­reworked chicken is sold at its abattoirs and factory shops where wholesalers or spaza shop owners can buy the products.

Attorney Charles Abrahams, who took on bread cartels on behalf of consumers this year, called for an urgent investigation of Supreme. “All these outlets like spaza shops are located in townships. Do they imply that this is fit for consumption by these people? The situation warrants a very, very serious investigation.”

Pick n Pay and the Mangaung municipality visited ­Supreme’s plant this week. According to Stewart they found no wrongdoing.

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