European Process Plant’s (EPP) MD Steve Merritt has reacted to the BBC’s investigative programme Watchdog’s shaming of Asda over its unhygienic baskets by stating that washing machine production line Colussi Ermes is the answer to its problems.

The Epsom-based company is a supplier of equipment to the baking and food manufacturing industry.

The equipment is manufactured by the Italian company Colussi Ermes, which is recognised as a leader in the design and production of washing machines for the food, logistics, medical and pharmaceutical industries.

BBC One’s Watchdog programme carried out an undercover investigation after a whistleblower raised concerns. Tests of bacteria levels on Asda’s crates from 10 different deliveries found that three were “equivalent to dirt levels of a kitchen floor”.

Meritt believed that hygiene in the food industry’s supply chain from the farm gate to the consumer’s kitchen cupboards continues to be a cause of concern for many involved, but thinks the Colussi system is the answer to equipment hygiene.

“The entire food industry demands the highest degree of certainty of hygiene to safeguard the health and safety of the consumers,” he said.

“Colussi specialises in systems, both large and small, for washing plastic trays, boxes and crates used in the logistics and distribution industries. They can provide a solution for a wide range of products and can take flat, folded trays with folding sides. Colussi are able to tailor-make small cycle washers right up to very large systems capable of washing up to 10,000 trays an hour. As an added bonus the equipment has an ability to dry the baskets that is second to none.”

Although currently not so well known in the UK and Ireland, Colussi has installed more than 4,000 advanced washing systems, all designed to customers’ specific requirements, in bakery and food processing businesses.

In response to Merrit’s assertions, an Asda spokesperson told British Baker: “We want to be completely clear that we have processes and training policies in place and that the information provided by Watchdog is not a reflection of our business across the whole estate.

"Although some of our policies and procedures have not been followed in these six stores, we have taken immediate action to permanently improve standards across all our home shopping services.”

Asda said the actions include:

  • Deep cleaning every home shopping van
  • Improving the ‘spillage kits’ in all vans so that drivers can clean small spills quickly and easily.
  • Re-briefing every store colleague about food safety rules for home shopping, including the use of separate red bags for raw meat and clear bags for loose produce. Also covering the supermarket’s ‘clean as you go’ rules for home shopping crates.
  • Introducing additional deep cleaning for all delivery crates in all stores, which was successfully trialled this summer.