Pub chain Wetherspoon’s has cancelled a contract with a Derby-based meat firm at the heart of a food hygiene scare and found alternative suppliers.
Last week, the firm’s weekly Tuesday Night Steak Club was hit after it was forced to withdraw sirloin, rump and gammon steaks, supplied by Russell Hume, after a probe was launched into the Pride Park firm by food safety inspectors.
Wetherspoon’s is one of a number of businesses affected by the Food Standards Agency’s ongoing investigation into alleged non-compliance with hygiene regulations.
The pub chain has now confirmed that it has cancelled its contract with Russell Hume.
It has also confirmed that it will reintroduce sirloin, rump and gammon steak in its 900 pubs across the UK and Ireland from Tuesday, January 30, after finding new suppliers.
Wetherspoon’s chairman Tim Martin said: “Firstly, we wish to apologise to our customers for the inconvenience caused to them.
“However, our decision to stop serving steak last Tuesday, despite limited information from the supplier, was the correct one.
“Steak is one of the most popular dishes on our menu and we serve around 200,000 per week on average – about half of these on our extremely popular Tuesday Night Steak Club.
“We have now sourced alternative suppliers and our pub staff are once again looking forward to serving the steak dishes from Tuesday, January 30 onwards.”
Steak will be back on the menu at Wetherspoon’s pubs including The Standing Order, in Iron Gate, Derby
Meanwhile, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has taken action to stop any product from leaving sites operated by Russell Hume, which also supplied other pub chains including Marston’s and Greene King.
Earlier this month, its inspectors carried out an unannounced audit of one of its sites, which led the FSA to widen its investigation to other plants.
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.
Meat wholesaler Russell Hume has its head office on Pride Park in Derby
“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.
“As a result of these further investigations, which highlighted the serious issues of non-compliance, Russell Hume have been required to stop all production at the plants and detain all products.
“We then worked with the company so that they could initiate a voluntary recall of all affected products. Until the business can provide assurances that they are complying with the relevant legislation and that they are producing safe food, no meat can leave their sites.”
FSA chief executive Jason Feeney 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 peoples’ livelihoods.
“Of course, public health remains our top priority and at no stage in the process has there been any indication that people have become ill from eating meat supplied by Russell Hume. This remains the case and we continue to assess the situation working with the relevant public health bodies.
“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.”
In a statement after the steak recall, Russell Hume, which also supplies care homes and schools, said: “The product recall was a precautionary measure because of mislabelling.”
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Source: Derby Telegraph