FSA and FSS to review of cutting plants in wake of meat scandals

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Food Standards Scotland (FSS) have announced a review of meat cutting premises and cold stores in response to two recent high profile scandals.

The review, which will be established later this month, comes in the wake of serious non-compliance issues identified at cutting plants operated by 2 Sisters Food Group and, recently, Russell Hume and will be industry wide.

Heather Hancock, FSA chairman and Ross Finnie chair of FSS, said: “In the last six months the FSA and FSS have faced two serious incidents involving major players in the meat sector. People rightly expect food businesses to keep to the rules, rules designed to keep consumers safe and to sustain public trust in food – and food businesses have a duty to follow the regulations.

“In the light of these recent incidents, the FSA and FSS will be taking forward reviews of cutting plants and cold stores used for meat. Further details will be published later this month and the results will be fully available to the public.”

The most recent incident saw production and distribution halted at all six Russell Hume sites in January, following issues that emerged during routine checks at its Birmingham plant. The business supplies steaks to some high profile food businesses, including Wetherspons and Jamie’s Italian.

The FSA announced on Monday that Russell Hume’s Liverpool plant can now re-open after assurances that their food safety management system met the legal requirements were satisfied.

The FSA and FSS are continuing to investigate the business. The areas of interest include the extended use of use by dates, and the food safety management system that the business has in place.

Jason Feeney, Chief Executive of the FSA said: “Our investigation into the major non-compliances we found at the Russell Hume plants in England and Scotland is intensifying.

“We have already stopped these plants producing meat products, have ensured the withdrawal and disposal of the products and now we are looking at the root cause of the incident and any culpability.

“The investigation is looking into all aspects of the business to establish more details about the serious and widespread problems that we identified. This will then determine whether additional enforcement action should be taken.  Therefore we will be unable to  make any further comments on the detail of the investigation.

“It remains the case that there is no indication that people have become ill from eating meat supplied by Russell Hume and we continue to assess the situation working with the relevant public health bodies.”

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