Antibiotics film shortlisted for major Guild of Food Writers award

Our 18 month investigation with The Guardian into how antibiotic use on intensive pig farms has put a variation of the superbug MRSA in supermarket pork has been shortlisted for this year’s Guild of Food Writers “Investigative and Campaigning” award. Ecostorm and the Guardian won the prize in last year’s awards for our earlier undercover investigation into hygiene failings in the poultry sector.

Investigation into salad & fruit farm exploitation wins top TV award

Ecostorm’s major undercover investigations with Channel 4 News into the “terrible” working and living conditions for migrants in both UK fruit packing factories and on Spanish salad farms has won the Harold Wincott Award for Television Journalism of the Year.

The four part investigation, broadcast last year, prompted the judges to comment: “Channel 4 News took on a story about labour conditions in the supermarket fruit and vegetable packing supply chain, where an undercover reporter worked with Business Editor Siobhan Kennedy to lay out a charge sheet of appalling working conditions which resulted in an immediate response from the supermarkets involved.”

Watch the two lead films here:

More info here

Chicken farms “risk workers and food safety” – investigation

Britain’s poultry sector is in the midst of its annual Christmas bonanza as consumers splash out on festive supplies. But as people rush to get their meat they may be unaware of a dark side to this industry. Previous investigations by the Guardian and ecostorm uncovered a catalogue of alleged hygiene failings in the poultry industry. And now there are also concerns about working conditions…

Read our special report in The Guardian here

Mega-dairy UK: stealth rise in factory farming

An investigation published with The Independent newspaper today revealed how large US-style factory dairies and confinement units are spreading across the UK countryside. The findings come as the UK dairy sector continues to grapple with the consequences of the low price paid to dairy farmers, leading to soem farmers to exist the industry altogether. You can read the full investigation coverage here:

Plummeting milk price prompts ‘stealth’ rise of 2,000-cow ‘mega-dairies’ in UK

The controversial ‘mega-dairies’ that alarm campaigners and divide a struggling sector of British agriculture

Consumers would pay a premium to avoid the cruelty and environmental costs of factory-produced milk

Investigation uncovers ‘rampant’ illegal logging in Romania

Romania is home to Europe’s last remaining virgin forests and some of the continent’s largest populations of bears, wolves, and lynx. But these forests are under serious threat due to ‘rampant’ illegal logging, according to campaigners. During a major investigation spanning several years, to which Ecostorm contributed information and photographic evidence, the US-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) documented this illegal logging and examined the involvement of a leading Austrian-based timber and wood processing company. Read the report and other background.

Bad apples: the hidden cost of supermarket fruit


We’ve been undercover with Channel 4 News investigating conditions for some those picking and packing supermarket fruit at a major facility in Kent. What we found was shocking and has provoked an immediate outcry. Our undercover reporter experienced first hand the highly-pressured environment at the Mansfields packhouse at Chartham, with managers breathing down workers’ necks to meet strict targets.

Some of them live in appalling conditions that they say are supplied by the agency they work for – and that some say aren’t fit for animals. The packhouse supplies fruit to top retailers, and after our evidence was broadcast Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Marks and Spencer have all told Channel 4 News they have launched investigations. And one supermarket, Aldi, has suspended its orders. The Gangmasters Licensing Authority has also launched an investigation into our findings.

You can watch part 1 of our exclusive investigation, and read the background here. Part 2 of the story follows tonight (Tuesday, 20th October). The investigation follows our reporting earlier this year which highlighted the plight of migrants harvesting salad on farms in Spain, much of destined for UK supermarkets, and earlier investigations into the hard labour behind Italy’s orange trade.


Revealed: livestock MRSA found in supermarket pork

A special Ecostorm / Guardian investigation has today revealed how a new pig superbug – LA-MRSA CC398 – is spreading onto our plates and into our bodies. Watch the disturbing results of our food tests in four of Britain’s biggest supermarkets, where the superbug has been found in pork. It’s not deadly – but factory pigs overdosing on antibiotics is the latest twist on the long road that, microbiologists warn, will make antibiotics so useless that more of us will be die from antibiotic-resistant drugs than from cancer by 2050


Poultry investigation wins Derek Cooper award

Ecostorm’s joint investigation with The Guardian into hygiene failures in the UK poultry sector has won the 2015 Derek Cooper Award for investigative and campaigning journalism at the guild of Food Writers annual award ceremony. The investigation, using undercover footage, photographic evidence and information from whistleblowers revealed in 2014 how strict industry hygiene standards to prevent the contamination of chicken with the potentially deadly campylobacter bug can be flouted on the factory floor and on farms.

More info on the awards:

What’s the real cost of our cheap salad?

An army of modern-day “slaves” are being used to grow the salad and winter vegetables that fill Britain’s supermarket shelves, a major new investigation by Ecostorm and Channel 4 News has revealed. The allegations are made by politicians and workers interviewed in Spain who say migrants employed to pick salad for companies whose produce ends up on the shelves of top British supermarkets are routinely mistreated, forced to work weeks on end, cheated out of wages and exposed to pesticides.


New film to launch paperback version of Farmageddon book

Ecostorm has produced the latest in a series of special films commissioned to accompany publication of Farmageddon: the true cost of cheap meat, a major new book written by Compassion in World Farming chief Philip Lymbery and journalist Isabel Oakeshott. The film has been released to coincide with the paperback edition of the title and builds on material which featured in an earlier series of short films examining different aspects of factory farming.

Fascinating and terrifying in equal measure, Farmageddon documents an investigative journey behind the closed doors of the factory farming industry. It busts the myth that factory farming is needed to feed the world. With stories from the UK, Europe and the USA, to China, Argentina, Peru and Mexico, the book shows that none of us are safe from the factory farming machine.

More info:

Royal Television Society award for Romanian tunnel film

No Comments

Channel 4 News and Ecostorm won the Royal Television Society’s independent award for a “remarkable” film about the world of Bucharest’s homeless underground society. The film, first broadcast in May 2014, exposed the desperate lives of hundreds of men, women and children living in squalid conditions in a network of tunnels and sewers under the Romanian capital Bucharest. In shocking scenes, the tunnel-dwellers are seen injecting drugs and inhaling paint fumes. Most of the people in the tunnels have HIV and a quarter have TB. Some look like children yet are teenagers, stunted by the drug abuse. Just a few feet above them life continues as normal.

This parallel universe is presided over by a man known as Bruce Lee, in honour of his past street fighting days. A tattoo on his leg reads Bruce Lee, King of the Sewers. He agreed to show reporter Paraic O’Brien and the Ecostorm team around his hellish underground kingdom. In awarding the independent award the RTS said: “The jury thought this film told an absolutely compelling story and exposed a horrible reality. “It took many months to set up, and although other journalists have tried before to tell the story of the weird world of the men, women and children living in the sewers of Bucharest, this was a quite remarkable film with brilliant pictures and great storytelling.”

New evidence of Gadhimai festival slaughter

Ecostorm investigators this month joined a team documenting the Gadhimai festival in Nepal in which thousands of animals are slaughtered. The festival, which happens once every five years, sees animals corralled into an open air pen where they are beheaded. An estimated 250,000 animals met this fate at the last festival several years ago. The team, working on behalf of Compassion in World Farming, obtained video and photographs vividly revealing the brutal nature of the event, which has attracted widespread criticism from around the world.

For more info:

Two awards for Bruce Lee, King of the Sewers

No Comments

Deep under the streets of Bucharest – in Europe, in the 21st century – there is a network of tunnels and sewers that is home to hundreds of men, women and children stricken by drug abuse HIV and TB. Ecostorm’s Jim Wickens, working with Channel 4 News, travelled to Romania to investigate further. The resulting news film – Bruce Lee, King of the Sewers – has won two prestigious media awards, an Amnesty media prize in the TV news category, and a Foreign Press Association award for TV news story of the year. Read the original reporting at