South Africa-based Supreme Poultry has denied claims made by former employee Johan Wilhelm Matthee that the company illegally "re-works" its chicken products, saying in a press release that "re-working ... occurs on a limited scale and is conducted in accordance with the protocols as dictated by the Department of Agriculture."
Claims that such product has ever made it to the foodservice or retail sectors, said Supreme Poultry, are false, and legal action is being taken against Matthee, who was fired on the grounds of sexual harassment. Re-worked product is strictly regulated, subjected to bacterial inspections, re-processed through a frozen production cycle, prominently repackaged and date coded for traceability. The product may then be used for "human consumption, animal consumption and rendering." Re-worked products are sold through Supreme Poultry's factory shops at its abattoirs, where they can be bought by private individuals, spaza shop (convenience store) owners or independent wholesalers. This practice has also come under scrutiny for what some say are racist undertones, as "more than 80% of ordinary black South Africans, they get their food from the spaza shops which means that you are actually selling rotten meat to black people," according to Blade Nzimande, leader of the South African Communist party.
Country Bird Holdings Limited, of which Supreme Poultry is a subsidiary, said that it subscribes to a continuous improvement program and a channel for grievances and complaints, including an independent hotline where both employees and consumers can report any malpractice or concern that in turn will be reported directly to the CBH Board of directors, bypassing operational management. "There have been no complaints received from anyone regarding production practices using this channel," said CBH via the press release.