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Russell Hume non-compliance found to be ‘widespread’
Published:  29 January, 2018

The Food Standard Agency (FSA) has taken action to stop any product from leaving sites operated by Russell Hume due to concerns about non-compliance with food hygiene regulations. 

The non-compliance was uncovered as the result of an unannounced audit at one of the company’s sites which then led to a wider investigation in the following days across all their plants and also into products held in cold stores.

In a statement, the FSA said: “Based on the evidence gathered we became concerned that there was a more systemic and widespread problem which was more serious in terms of its scale and nature. It was only at this stage issues of serious non-compliance were uncovered. These related to a number of issues, including concerns about procedures and processes around use-by dates. There is no indication that people have become ill from eating meat supplied by Russell Hume.

“Our investigation is taking a proportionate approach based on the findings. We are working in partnership with Food Standards Scotland to do this. We are unable to provide further details which could potentially jeopardise future enforcement action.”

These investigations mean Russell Hume has been required to stop all production at its plants and detain all products. The business has initiated a voluntary recall of all affected products. The FSA added that until the business could provide assurances that it was complying with the relevant legislation and was producing safe food, no meat could leave its sites.

Jason Feeney, chief executive officer of the Food Standards Agency, said: "We don’t take decisions to stop production, instigate product recalls or withdrawals lightly. Our job is to ensure that food produced by a business is safe and, clearly, we must take a proportionate approach.

“We do recognise the potential impact of our decisions on business and people’s livelihoods. In the Russell Hume case our own unannounced inspection at one site gave us some cause for concern about non-compliance with food hygiene regulations, it was not triggered by any reports of ill-health.

“We then looked right across this UK-wide business and concluded that the non-compliance was serious and widespread enough to advise stopping all production at Russell Hume plants and initiate a withdrawal of products.  We worked with the company to get this done as quickly and effectively as possible and our actions have been proportionate based on the evidence we have obtained.

“As the company have not been able to demonstrate they have a sufficiently robust management system in place, it is absolutely right that we have taken these appropriate actions.”

Food Standards Scotland chief executive Geoff Ogle added: “Food Standards Scotland is working with the Food Standards Agency on an investigation in relation to Russell Hume. The investigation relates to allegations of non-compliance with food hygiene regulations, including an allegation that use-by dates on some meat products supplied by the company had been extended. The purpose of the investigation is to establish the facts.

“Food Standards Scotland’s role is to ensure consumer protection and food safety. In light of the allegations, we therefore took immediate and proportionate enforcement action from the Scottish site. This was done on 17 January to protect consumers and ensure food safety. We are satisfied that food businesses in Scotland have withdrawn all relevant products from the market.

“While we fully appreciate the concern this issue is causing, we are not aware of people becoming unwell from eating Russell Hume meat. Our role in this case is to investigate alleged non-compliance with hygiene regulations. We and the Food Standards Agency continue to gather evidence and are unable to give more information at this time.”