Supermarket Iceland left child foods to stand for up to 14 hours without being refrigerated, an investigation has found.
An undercover reporter who got a job at the food chain witnessed deliveries being left out for long periods of time without being stored properly.
Experts branded the findings by BBC’s Watchdog Live programme ‘astonishing’ and said one said ‘it is as bad as I’ve ever seen or come across in 40 years of working.’
In one case, food which staff said had arrived at around 4am was still out at 6.30pm that evening.
On his second shift, he was given sole responsibility for unloading the morning delivery after having received only minimal training on how to handle chilled foods.
Experts branded the findings by BBC’s Watchdog Live programme ‘astonishing’ and one said ‘it is as bad as I’ve ever seen or come across in 40 years of working’
The allegations, which will be shown on Watchdog Live tonight, came after the show launched a probe when it was tipped off from two Iceland staff about problems with food storage.
One supervisor was heard saying he would like to be able to put more staff on each delivery to get the food away faster, but he did not have staff hours to do so.
Food Standards Agency guidance says chilled food should always be kept below 8 degrees, and should never be left unrefrigerated for any longer than two hours.
Chartered Environmental Health Practitioner Barrie Trevena, who in the programme branded the findings as ‘astonishing’.
He said: ‘This is as bad as I’ve seen or come across in in 40 years of working. If it was a one off it would be a bad enough but in fact it seems to be an ongoing situation, so it indicates that really they don’t have enough resources or are not putting enough resources into it.
‘I can’t say that I’ve ever come across food that’s been out of refrigeration for so long in in a national company.’
In the footage included in the programme, staff members at the branch are shown talking about `tricks’ they use to make it appear the food has been put away more quickly.
The former Iceland employee who initially contacted ‘Watchdog Live’, who is shown anonymously, had raised concerns with Iceland managers at a local and national level, but when their complaints were not upheld, felt that the company was not taking the issue seriously.
They tell the programme: ‘I thought to myself, I can’t just sit back and watch this happen, you know, I’ve got a conscience.’
A spokesman for Iceland Foods, said: ‘We have thoroughly investigated Watchdog’s allegations and are completely confident that this programme is entirely unrepresentative of our usual practice and that there are no generic issues with temperature control within Iceland.
‘This is simply illustrated by the extremely low level of customer complaints we receive. In the last six months we sold more than one billion food products in the UK, and complaints about our chilled food and virtually non-existent.
Iceland (pictured here is managing director Richard Walker, as the store pledged to eliminate plastic packaging) are accused of leaving chilled food out for long periods of time without being stored properly
‘The vast majority of our stores, including the one featured in the programme, have 5/5 Food Hygiene ratings from their local authorities.’
The company also says there is ‘No risk to public health from temperature control’, maintaining that the temperature of the store room filmed by the BBC in February 2018 did not exceed 6 degrees Celsius, making it colder than the store’s chiller.
It says there is no shortage of resources, and no shortage of chiller capacity: the store featured had recently benefited from a £0.5 million investment, which included the installation of a third chiller to increase chilled storage space by 50%.
Iceland has also dismissed the credibility of one of the whistleblowers who contacted the programme.