Documentary highlights health and safety issues at honeytop bakery

Channel 4 Dispatches:
Supermarkets: The Real Price of Cheap Food aired on Monday
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Bakery supplier Honeytop Speciality Foods was featured on television’s Channel 4 after a reporter went undercover in the factory, allegedly discovering numerous health and safety breaches. 

The Dispatches documentary, Supermarkets: The Real Price of Cheap Food aired on Monday night. One incident appeared to show products dropped onto the floor, and it was then unclear as to whether these were repackaged. 

A spokesperson from Honeytop has since said that this would not have been the case, and the dropped products would have been disposed of. 

The bakery, based in Dunstable and owned by Aryzta, supplies naan breads to all major UK retailers, including Asda and Tesco.

One worker was pictured crawling into a machine to fix a technical fault, and numerous fire hazards were noted.

The report also highlighted lack of hard hats and available safety shoes; in fact workers were encouraged to steal other shoes instead of being issued a pair, for which there was a £20 replacement fine.

In response to the programme, a HoneyTop Speciality Foods' spokesperson said:"A thorough investigation has been carried out into the misleading and speculative claims made by Dispatches.

"Our position is and always has been that we take our responsibilities for the health and safety of our employees, customers and consumers very seriously and take pride in producing the highest quality foods, in a safe and hygienic working environment, operating at the highest national and international standards. 

"As part of our best practice approach we are also committed to ongoing training for all employees within our continuous improvement agenda."

The workers at the bakery were also on zero-hour contracts, meaning many were frequently sent home and unable to complete their shift.

Asked about its experience with the bakery, Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service explained it had attended fires at these premises three times this year. All three incidents involved fires in industrial ovens on the production line, but the fires had been minor and confined to machinery.

A spokesman said: “On each occasion all staff evacuated safely and all fires were attributed to the same cause - a build-up of debris from production.

“Throughout this time, the Service has been liaising with the company, which has now instigated a more stringent regime of cleaning in these particular areas.

“We will be interested in the findings of the documentary when it is screened.”

Comment from the fire service has yet to be made on the outcome of the documentary. 

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