Multiple retailer Iceland has strongly refuted claims made by BBC One show Watchdog that the company is not handling chilled goods appropriately.
The television show aired an item on 18th April showing the retailer’s alleged mistreatment of chilled goods. Camera footage was broadcasted which was filmed by an undercover reporter working at Iceland over a time period of four days.
The footage showed staff unloading deliveries but failing to ensure all chilled food had made it out of the storeroom and into the shop’s chillers within the recommended timeframe. On one shift, products appeared to be left out at room temperature for 14 hours.
Staff working alongside the undercover reporter were filmed stating they do not feel they have enough hours or team members to work any quicker so they have to “do what they can get away with”.
Iceland has expressed its “disappointment” in the feature, with a spokesperson stating: “We are extremely disappointed that the BBC chose to broadcast a wholly inaccurate and highly defamatory report on temperature controls within one of our stores.
“The BBC’s undercover filming showed a delay in transferring food to a chiller on the only shift where their undercover journalist Nathan Lord worked for us in the chilled food area. Mr Lord’s description was wholly artificial and unrepresentative, not least because he was responsible for the unpacking of the delivery himself, and was reprimanded by three Iceland colleagues for working so slowly while he was doing so.
“There is no shortage of chilled storage space in this store: a third chiller was recently installed as part of a £0.5m refurbishment, increasing capacity by 50%. The chiller can accommodate pallets.
“There was no risk to public health from this isolated occurrence since the BBC’s filming took place on dates in February 2018 when the outdoor temperature varied between -1°C and +6°C, and when temperature of the store room featured was actually below this, making it colder than the store’s chiller.
“There are no generic issues with temperature control in Iceland – a fact simply illustrated by the extremely low level of customer complaints we receive relating to food spoilage. In the last six months we sold more than one billion food products in the UK: complaints relating to ‘off’ chilled food are virtually non-existent. We have had no temperature control product liability claims in the last five years.
“We have comprehensive, proven and effective processes and procedures to ensure correct food temperature control throughout our supply chain. 97% of our stores in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have 5/5 (very good) or 4/5 (good) food hygiene ratings from their local Environmental Health Officers. The store featured in this broadcast has a 5/5 rating.”