Experts have suggested that a new meat scandal “could be brewing” following news that the Food Standards Agency is investigating meat supplier Russell Hume.
FSA has raised concerns of “serious non-compliance with food hygiene regulations” at Russell Hume’s Birmingham site. It is now investigating all the company’s sites. All distribution has been stopped and a withdrawal of all affected products is underway.
Russell Hume distributes meat to a range of hospitality and catering businesses, including JD Wetherspoon and Jamie’s Italian. It also supplies schools and care homes.
Earlier this week, the Sun reported how JD Wetherspoon had been forced to pull its popular Tuesday steak club due to “quality issues with our meat supplier”.
A spokesman for Jamie’s Italian told the Telegraph that all Russell Hume meat was removed from restaurants “as soon as we were notified on Monday [22nd January]. This was a day before the FSA asked for meat to be removed. We also immediately switched suppliers,” he added.
The exact nature of the breaches is as yet unclear. Russell Hume’s website was down at the time of writing, but ITV reported that the firm is blaming “mislabelling” for the steak and gammon recall and “insists there is no reason to believe the product is unsafe”.
The FSA also said “there is no indication that people have become ill from eating meat supplied by Russell Hume”.
However, Chris Elliott, Professor of food safety, founder of the Institute for Global Food Security and the man who led the review of the UK’s food supply chain following the horsemeat scandal, sensed “a new scandal is brewing”. He tweeted: “This story might run long and deep.”
Tony Lewis, head of policy at the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, called on the FSA to supply more detailed information. “The public has been kept in the dark about the extent of the problem, and the statements made by the respective parties simply do not add up.”