A meat firm that supplies Wetherspoon pubs and Jamie Oliver’s restaurants is at the centre of a hygiene scandal.
Russell Hume has been ordered to halt all deliveries after being suspected of ‘serious non-compliance’ with food regulations.
The Derby-based company is believed to supply other pub chains, holiday firms and caterers – as well as a number of care homes and schools.
The Food Standards Agency has urged restaurants and other customers with unused meat provided by Russell Hume to dispose of it.
A spokesman for the Jamie Oliver Group said its restaurants had been able to source replacement meat, so the move did not result in shortages for diners
Wetherspoons said it stopped serving Russell Hume products on Monday. It meant the chain had no steak or gammon for the chain’s popular Tuesday steak night
The FSA discovered an apparent breach of hygiene and labelling regulations during an unannounced inspection of the firm’s Birmingham factory on January 12, but seemingly did not instruct customers to dispose of potentially tainted products until two days ago.
Both the Jamie Oliver Group and Wetherspoons said they stopped serving Russell Hume products on Monday.
It meant Wetherspoons had no steak or gammon for the chain’s popular Tuesday steak night.
A spokesman for the Jamie Oliver Group said its restaurants had been able to source replacement meat, so the move did not result in shortages for diners.
It was believed last night that Butlins, Haven and Warner Leisure Hotels, nightclub chain Tiger Tiger, and Greene King and Marston’s pubs are among other clients affected.
Russell Hume describes itself as ‘one of the UK’s leading meat specialists providing quality and distinction’. Its turnover was £129million in 2015.
A notice, spotted on Twitter by Ian Heath, attributed the absence to a ‘supplier failure’, saying the Aberdeen Angus rump steak, Sirloin steak and gammon would be unavailable
But yesterday the company, which employs 400 workers at seven sites across the UK, appeared to have gone into shutdown. Its website went offline and the firm refused to respond to basic requests for information.
Chairman, David Holding was not available. A woman at his £750,000 gated house on a private road in Derby shouted ‘No’ and slammed the door when approached for comment.
The firm had earlier told Wetherspoons – which sells 45million steaks a year – that the product recall was a ‘precautionary measure because of mislabelling’.
A spokesman for the Jamie Oliver Group said: ‘All Russell Hume meat was removed from restaurants as soon as we were notified.
‘We also switched suppliers. We have very strict higher welfare and food standards and to ensure our suppliers uphold these standards, we have an independent team that audits all our key suppliers, including meat.’
Russell Hume has been ordered to halt all deliveries after being suspected of ‘serious non-compliance’ with food regulations (file picture)
A notice spotted by Wetherspoons customers said chicken would replace steak in the mixed grill (file picture)
A Wetherspoons spokesman said the chain had acted ‘proactively’ by removing the products very quickly, adding that its pubs should be serving the missing menu items again within a week, this time sourced from ‘an alternative supplier’.
Last night Greene King, the UK’s largest pub retailer, said: ‘We only take a handful of products from Russell Hume and have contingency plans in place which means we can continue to serve our customers as normal.’
The FSA said in a statement yesterday that ‘there is no indication that people have become ill from eating meat supplied by Russell Hume’.
It added: ‘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. Distribution of meat from Russell Hume is to a range of outlets, including hospitality and catering businesses, and care homes and schools.
‘All unused meat supplied by Russell Hume has been withdrawn from the businesses that they supply until they can provide assurances.’
Russell Hume did not respond to several requests for comment.