The last thing you'd expect to see inside one of Australia's largest bakeries is bread on the floor, being put back on the production line.
Today Tonight's whistleblower is an employee of Tip Top's bakery in Brisbane.
He says he had no choice but to expose what he claims are poor work practices.More stories from Today Tonight
“It’s just got to that point where I've got sick of seeing what I see on a daily basis," the whistleblower said.
He wants his identity kept secret and claims bread is deliberately put on the ground when loaves bank up in the production process.
“Instead of grabbing it and walking over to the shelves, they grab it and just throw it on the floor”, he said.
His footage also reveals what appears to be a cockroach problem at the bakery.
“That number of cockroaches would be enough that if I was your inspector, I'd fail you for pest control," said Gary Kennedy, a private food safety inspector who audits bakeries.
“Not only is the product on the ground contaminated, but the fact that what was on the ground goes back on the production line contaminates the line and all the other product," Gary added.
“This is not acceptable behaviour," said Rachelle Williams, a long-time food safety advisor.
“What's on the floor, there's dust, there's dirt, there's grot," she added.
While the footage shows one loaf being put into a bin, the experts argue all the contaminated bread should have been thrown out.
“You don't use food that's been on the floor," Rachelle said.
The footage also shows the contaminated bread making its way along the production line, before it's sliced and packaged.
“Staff on the footage that we saw, they were quite confident in what they were doing," Today Tonight's insider said.
Today Tonight approached Tip Top's parent company - George Weston Foods - who admitted the footage revealed "appalling behaviour" involving bread being "mishandled" at their Springwood Bakery.
The company said it was an isolated matter which “occurred during a planned commissioning phase involving the testing of a new conveying system."
The company has launched its own investigation and called in police.
Repeated requests for proof or even a statutory declaration stating the equipment was indeed new and part of $6 million upgrade have been refused.
The company claims the footage was deliberately constructed by an aggrieved employee, assertions rejected by Today Tonight's insider, who says it was no set-up, test, or isolated incident.
According to George Weston Foods, Queensland Health inspected the plant on August 20th and the site complied with Food Health and Safety Standards.
The footage taken since then, has Today Tonight's experts concerned.
George Weston Foods is extremely disappointed with the spliced video footage captured in August 2012 on the camera phone of an employee. The identity of the individual being filmed has been confirmed and our investigation to date leads us to believe the source of this footage may be an aggrieved employee.
This video, briefly shown to George Weston Foods by Today Tonight on 12 September 2012, appears to show test product being mishandled by at least one employee at our manufacturing plant in Slacks Creek, Queensland. It is believed that the footage has been deliberately constructed with intent to mislead the public and discredit the company and its standards.
A full investigation into the matter, by George Weston Foods, is currently underway. The investigation has confirmed this was an isolated event which occurred during a planned commissioning phase involving the testing of a new conveying system and scheduled oven maintenance. This new equipment has been installed as part of a $6 million site upgrade program, which includes an automated product handling system.
Products used during commissioning are strictly not for distribution, nor consumption, and are discarded as waste immediately. No consumers were put at risk through the actions of the individuals concerned, however, their actions in deliberately constructing this footage with intent to discredit the company and its standards are being taken very seriously. We have asked for copies of the footage from Today Tonight to assist with the investigation to no avail. Furthermore both the police and the relevant regulatory bodies have now been notified and are involved in our investigation.
George Weston Foods operates in a highly regulated industry. It complies with all Australian food manufacturing standards and has comprehensive records detailing manufacturing and food compliance auditing activities and subsequent certification. This includes extensive food handling training for all our people.
Queensland Health inspected the Slacks Creek site as recently as 20 August 2012 and confirmed the site satisfied and complied with food health and safety standards. This includes regular pest inspections and where activity is identified, subsequent treatment and removal. In light of this matter, however, George Weston Foods requested Queensland Health to again inspect the factory. This took place on 18 September, along with Logan City Council, and included review of the new product handling system and employee amenities block. Queensland Health commented on the high standard of the upgrades and again confirmed that thewhole site fully complied with all food health and safety standards.
George Weston Foods’ employees take great pride in the work they do and as a Company we place the utmost priority on all aspects of food health and safety, and the delivery of the highest quality bread to Australian consumers each and every day. The matter has been discussed with all staff working at the site. They are equally appalled at the actions of the relevant individuals, and are similarly disappointed that there are people who would compromise the hard work of their fellow workers.
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