More than 260 workers have lost their jobs at the meat supplier Russell Hume, which has collapsed into administration just weeks after production was suspended following a food standards scare.
Administrators announced 266 redundancies on Monday from the 302 employees at the company, which has its headquarters in Derby and operates from six production sites in Liverpool, Birmingham, London, Boroughbridge in North Yorkshire, Exeter and Fife.
It is expected that all the company’s employees will eventually lose their jobs.
Meat products were prevented from leaving the group’s factories last month after Food Standards Agency (FSA) inspectors found “serious non-compliance with food hygiene regulations” during a surprise visit to the Birmingham premises. Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurant chain and Wetherspoon were among the major restaurants and pub groups that were customers of Russell Hume.
The company’s demise comes after the pork company Fairfax Meadow voluntarily recalled meat products earlier this month after an unannounced inspection revealed issues with use-by date labelling.
Meanwhile, in September, a Guardian and ITV undercover investigation into 2 Sisters Food Group resulted in the country’s largest supplier of supermarket chicken suspending production at its West Bromwich plant for five weeks.
Chris Pole, a partner at KPMG and a Russell Hume administrator, said: “The recent product recall and halt in operations has caused significant customer attrition and trading difficulties, which in turn has led the directors to take the decision to place the company into administration.
“Regrettably, with little prospect of production restarting on site, a total of 266 people have been made redundant. Our priority over the coming days will be to work with all affected employees to provide the assistance they need in claiming monies owed from the redundancy payments office.
“We will also be seeking buyers for the business and its assets.”
The Russell Hume directors said the firm had an unblemished record before the investigation and a number of businesses had experienced “issues” with FSA investigations.
They claimed there was a lack of clarity throughout the industry concerning FSA guidelines.
Earlier this month, the FSA said it was launching a nationwide review of all meat cutting plants in the wake of serious incidents at 2 Sisters and Russell Hume.
The FSA was criticised by a committee of MPs for failing to take “definite action” to improve food standards after the Guardian and ITV investigation last year.
By Simon Goodley
Source: The Guardian
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