UK – Russell Hume, the UK meat supplier has fallen into administration with 300 job loss, condemning the Food Standards Agency (FSA) for inappropriately handling the ‘food hygiene concerns’ and labelling impropriety, according to a report in the Guardian.
The investigation instituted to obtain sufficient information on the non-compliance and food safety issues identified at Russell Hume’s Birmingham site found out that meat was being labelled with the wrong use-by dates, leading to a number of major restaurants ditching the supplier.
Russell Hume claimed that the decision to go into administration and make hundreds of workers redundant was caused by FSA’s actions which created impossible conditions for them.
In a statement, the company directors said that the misfortune could not have happened had FSA worked closely with them in early stages of the situation.
Late January, Russell Hume was ordered by FSA to stop beef, chicken, pork, lamb and steak cuts deliveries to its designated customers due to food hygiene concerns plus an instruction to withdraw the already supplied products.
In addition to this, claims emerged that the meat supplier had sold foreign beef as ‘British’.
After the meat scare, Wetherspoons announced that it had cancelled its contract with Russell Hume, removing meat from its menu.
The move to stop selling meat was sparked by a range of other problems including concerns relating to procedures and processes.
“The recent product recall and halt in operations has caused significant customer attrition and trading difficulties, which in turn have led the directors to take the decision to place the company into administration.
“Regrettably, with little prospect of production restarting on site, a total of 266 people have been made redundant.
Our priority over the coming days will be to work with all affected employees to provide the assistance they need in claiming monies owed from the Redundancy Payments Office,” said Chris Pole, partner at KPMG, which is the administrator for Russell Hume.
Defending its stance, FSA said that the decision to stop Russell Hume from selling meat and a voluntary withdrawal of affected products was based on serious and widespread problems found at the facility.
FSA reiterated the food business was responsible for ensuring the food they produce was safe while their role was to provide assurances that a business is meeting its responsibilities.
“Since then we have been working with the company to get assurances that their food safety management system met the legal requirements.
As a result, the Liverpool site was given permission to resume production on 5 February,” said an FSA spokesman.