Hygiene-probe meat supply firm with site in Islington collapses
60 jobs are lost as company investigated by Food Standards Agency goes into administration
23 February, 2018 — By Samantha Booth
Russell Hume’s Islington base
MORE than 60 jobs have been lost at the Islington base of meat supplier Russell Hume as it went into administration this week.
The company supplied meat to restaurants and pubs across the country but ceased production last month after the Food Standards Agency (FSA) began investigating non-compliance with food hygiene regulations, including concerns about use-by dates.
Pub chain JD Wetherspoon cancelled its contract with Russell Hume and has found a new supplier.
Chris Pole, partner at KPMG and joint administrator, said: “The recent product recall and halt in operations have caused significant customer attrition and trading difficulties, which in turn have led directors to take the decision to place the company into administration.”
He said there was little prospect of production restarting, so nationwide 266 people were made redundant.
At its Blundell Street base, off Caledonian Road, 62 out of 69 jobs were lost, with the remaining seven jobs at risk.
Russell Hume’s directors said the decision was “heartbreaking”, claiming the FSA’s action was “out of all proportion to the concerns it says it has identified”.
In a statement, Russell Hume added: “Had it worked more closely with us in the crucial early stages of the situation, then more than 300 jobs may not have been lost.
“The fact that its investigations have become industry-wide, and a number of other firms have also had issues, strongly suggests there is a lack of clarity in the industry and in current FSA guidelines.
“Prior to this, we had a long, unblemished record for supplying quality meat products. We would like to thank our customers for their support, but above all our loyal and hard-working staff, some of whom have been with us a great many years.”
An FSA spokesman said it took “proportionate action” based on “serious and widespread problems” found at Russell Hume
The concerns, which started after an unannounced inspection in Birmingham, led to wider investigation across all the firm’s plants. The FSA said there was no indication people had become ill from eating the meat.
“[The action] involved stopping production at their sites and a voluntary withdrawal of affected products was initiated by the business,” the spokesman said.
“We do not take these decisions lightly and we recognise this will be a worrying time for employees and their families.
“We have been working with the company to get assurances that their food safety management system met legal requirements.”