LONDON – An investigation by The Guardian newspaper in Great Britain alleges that lapses in food safety at poultry processing plants and mishandling on farms has contributed to higher levels of campylobacter contamination in the country’s poultry supplies.

The newspaper investigation, "Poultry industry's dirty secret," included undercover video footage, photographs and information from whistleblowers. The Guardian said the investigation demonstrated how food safety standards aimed at preventing campylobacter contamination can be circumvented at processing plants and farms.

Allegations of food safety lapses targeted Faccenda Foods and 2 Sisters Food Group, two of the largest UK poultry processors. The Guardian claims chicken carcasses that fell on the floor were returned to the production line; breakdowns in evisceration equipment led to offal piling up on the plant floor and dirty water in scalding tanks was not replaced for days.

Following the release of the report, 2 Sisters issued a detailed response to specific allegations in The Guardian's report.

“All of our sites are subject to a rigorous external audit schedule both announced and unannounced, from all major retailers as well as the Environmental Health Officer, and FSA,” the company said. “In addition, sites undertake an annual two/ three-day audit which is conducted by the British Retail Consortium. The purpose of these audits is to assess the site’s adherence to food safety, legality and quality.”

The company added that “No risks to food safety have been raised at any time and we continue to work to constantly improve our systems and processes in order to meet the stringent requirements of our customer base.”

Faccenda Foods also denied any allegations of wrongdoing.