UK meat processor Cleveland Meat Company has gone into administration with the loss of 68 jobs.
Stockton-on-Tees-based Cleveland Meat Company appointed administrators on Monday (24 July), in a bid to sell its assets, after being banned from operating by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) 30 June for “serious deficiencies”.
The company, which comprised a red meat slaughterhouse, cutting plant cold store and a processing plant, had traded for 44 years before entering administration this week.
Steve Ross, joint administrator and partner at RSM in Newcastle, said: “The company ceased trading shortly before our appointment and the majority of employees were made redundant last week. Regrettably, it has not been possible to recommence trade, and we are working with the stakeholders of Cleveland Meat Company to ensure that we generate as much value as possible for the creditors.”
The suspension by the FSA was intended to last until the end of July, but was lifted on 14 July after the agency was satisfied the deficiencies were resolved.
According to local newspaper reports, the length of time it took for the FSA to lift the ban led to the abattoir losing more than GBP1.8m (US$2.4m), leaving it with no option but to go into administration. A worker, who did not want to be named, claimed the so-called deficiencies were nothing to do with food hygiene or cleanliness. “Weeds near the train tracks at the back of the business needed to be cut and there was a rusty door that needed to be sorted. They then imposed a suspension meaning we couldn’t operate or even pack meat,” he said.
“Within the time when we were suspended and their final visit we estimated to have lost around GBP1.8m in sales alone. Basically, the financial burden is too much to come back from.”
In 2013, Cleveland Meat Company was fined GBP12,900 and told to pay almost GBP15,000 in costs over 13 charges of breaches of food hygiene regulations. However, GBP10,000 of the fines were later quashed after convictions for ten of the charges were overturned.
The company supplied meat to wholesalers across the UK and Europe, and had an annual turnover of around £38m.