JD Wetherspoon was forced to cancel steaks at its popular steak club on Tuesday ©PA Images
JD Wetherspoon was forced to cancel steaks at its popular steak club on Tuesday ©PA Images

Meat pulled from supply chain in supplier hygiene probe

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
25 January 2018

Restaurant chains have been forced to cancel dishes and switch suppliers after food hygiene problems were uncovered at a meat company.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has halted all deliveries leaving Russell Hume’s premises after an unannounced inspection found “instances of serious non-compliance with food hygiene regulations”.

Russell Hume supplies a range of outlets including hospitality and catering businesses, care homes and schools.

JD Wetherspoon was forced to cancel steaks at its popular steak club on Tuesday, with a sign saying this was due to “supplier failure”.

The Jamie Oliver Group said it had switched suppliers so there had been no shortages at its Jamie’s Italian restaurants.

Hilton is reported to have withdrawn items at UK hotels supplied by the firm.

Tiger Tiger, Greene King and Marston’s are also reported to be among clients of Russell Hume.

The FSA said an investigation was ongoing. “There is no indication that people have become ill from eating meat supplied by Russell Hume,” it said. “However, we are concerned about the poor practices in place at their premises so that is why we have taken proportionate action to ensure no meat can leave their sites at present. We are continuing to assess the situation.”

It added: “We have also instructed Russell Hume to undertake a withdrawal of all affected product in the supply chain.”

The FSA carried out an unannounced inspection at Russell Hume’s Birmingham site on 12 January when non-compliance was discovered, leading to inspections at all the firm’s sites.

Russell Hume’s website is currently offline and a telephone line has a recorded message only providing office opening hours.

Latest company filings show the firm had turnover of £130.9m in the 12 months to 31 March 2016, compared to £128.9m in the previous year. Profits before tax fell over the same period from £3.9m to £3.7m “under extremely tough market conditions and competition”.

“The group has been built on a reputation for supplying high quality products and the directors of the business are fully committed to ensuring that our high standards continue throughout this economic turmoil,” the firm said in 2016.

The FSA said: “The company is cooperating with our investigation and is currently reviewing its procedures and retraining its staff.”

Alan Gunner, business development director at software firm Adjuno, said: “The withdrawal of the Wetherspoon’s steak club offer could have been prevented if the chain had invested more in their supply chain diversity. Although working closely with one high quality supplier has its advantages, if you are operating on such a large scale, with so many perishable items, it is advisable to have several trustworthy supplier networks to support your whole range of produce.”

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