Food safety officials in the UK have ordered national meat firm Russell Hume to halt supplies after “serious non-compliance” with hygiene rules at one of its sites.
The Food Standards Agency made the decision after an “unannounced” visit by its officials to a facility in Birmingham in central England.
The FSA said the visit prompted its staff – and counterparts from Food Standards Scotland – to look at all of Russell Hume’s sites, as well as other locations where their product is stored, in England, Scotland and Wales.
“Russell Hume were unable to demonstrate compliance with food hygiene rules at its locations, so we have stopped any product from leaving their sites until the business can provide assurances that they are complying with the relevant legislation, and that they are producing safe food,” the FSA said in a statement yesterday afternoon (24 January). “We have also instructed Russell Hume to undertake a withdrawal of all affected product in the supply chain.”
The FSA added: “There is no indication that people have become ill from eating meat supplied by Russell Hume. However, we are concerned about the poor practices in place at their premises so that is why we have taken proportionate action to ensure no meat can leave their sites at present. We are continuing to assess the situation.”
Russell Hume supplies foodservice businesses including pubs, schools and care homes.
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The issue made front-page news in the UK yesterday after pub chain JD Wetherspoon pulled steak from its menu on Tuesday – the day when the company runs a weekly promotion based on the meat.
According to The Sun, a Russell Hume spokesperson said: “We fully support Wetherspoon. We are carrying out a product recall on some products across our client base. As stated in our recall letter to our clients this has been down to a mislabelling issue. We have no reason to believe that the product is unsafe to eat, however we are undertaking this as a precautionary action as you would expect us to do.
“Whilst we address this – we have ceased supply from some of our sites. We are amending internal procedures to ensure that controls are in place to stop this re-occuring.”
The restaurants of UK celebrity chef Jamie Oliver have also reportedly pulled meat products from its outlets.
Officials at Russell Hume could not be reached for immediate comment on the FSA’s statement.