Russell Hume goes into administration with 300 jobs lost
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) stopped product from leaving sites operated by the specialist meat supplier in January because of concerns about non-compliance with food hygiene regulations.
In early February, the business was allowed to resume production and distribution of products from their Liverpool site.
Headquartered in Derby and operating from sites in Liverpool, Birmingham, London, Boroughbridge, Exeter and Fife, the company supplied meat to hotels, restaurants and pubs across the UK. It employed 302 people.
Russell Hume’s directors hit out at the FSA’s handling of the case.
“Unfortunately, the FSA’s action created impossible trading conditions for us and after careful reflection we have decided the best thing for the company and its creditors is to put Russell Hume into administration.
“We will continue to work with the FSA with regards to the issues it raised but we still feel its action has been out of all proportion to the concerns it says it has identified. Had it worked more closely with us in the crucial early stages of the situation, then more than 300 jobs may not have been lost.”
Chris Pole and Mark Orton from KPMG Restructuring were appointed joint administrators.
Pole, partner at KPMG, said with little prospect of production restarting on site, 266 people have been made redundant.
“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.”
Kath Dalmeny, chief executive of Sustain, called for better inspections and more funding for agencies that keep food safe.
“I’m very sorry to hear of job losses at Russell Hume, but why does it take a whistleblower and journalists to uncover this and the unsafe practices at the 2 Sisters meat processing site last year? Regulation has been a dirty word of late, condemned as ‘red tape’ that holds us all back, but we all expect the food on our plates to be safe."
Trade union Unison said there must be a permanent inspection presence in every meat cutting plant to prevent a culture of complacency in food hygiene.
Heather Wakefield, Unison head of local government, said inspections are not happening frequently enough and more inspectors are needed.
“Job losses are never good news for the individuals concerned, but what happened at Russell Hume made the company’s position untenable," she said.
“This crisis in the UK’s meat supplies, following the discovery at the cutting plant in Birmingham, is clear evidence that meat inspections are not happening frequently enough. The hygiene failures came to light on an unannounced visit. The previous inspection had been almost a year before that.
“The FSA must act now and take on extra directly-employed meat inspectors, otherwise there will be more incidents of companies recklessly taking risks with the public’s health."