300 jobs axed as Russell Hume goes into administration

  • Video report by ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi

Almost 300 will be lost at Russell Hume after the meat supplier collapsed into administration.

The move comes after production was halted and products were recalled when the Food Standards Agency (FSA) launched a food hygiene investigation in January.

The Derbyshire-based firm blamed its collapse on the FSA for creating "impossible trading conditions".

Last week, ITV News revealed allegations that the company was buying meat from Botswana in order to sell it as 'British'. Their breaches were so wide that there was a mass recall of the meat in January.

Pubs giant Wetherspoon was among the companies to pull its contract with Russell Hume after temporarily taking sirloin, rump and gammon steak off the menu following a "mislabelling issue".

Administrators KPMG said 266 jobs would be made redundant, with 36 staff remaining to help wind down the company. It is expected that all 302 jobs will be lost.

The company directors issued a broadside against the FSA, saying the watchdog's actions had been "out of all proportion".

In a statement, the directors said: "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.

"This decision has been heartbreaking.

"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."

The FSA revealed in January that it had become aware of hygiene issues at the company following an unannounced inspection of its Birmingham site.

The FSA said it had taken "proportionate action based on serious and widespread problems" and that the investigation into the company was continuing.

A spokesman for the watchdog added: "We do not take these decisions lightly and we recognise this will be a worrying time for employees and their families.

"It is for food businesses to ensure the food they produce is safe and our role is to provide assurances that a business is meeting its responsibilities."Since then we have been working with the company to get assurances that their food safety management system met the legal requirements.

"As a result the Liverpool site was given permission to resume production on February 5."

Chris Pole, KPMG joint administrator, said the product recall and the pause in production had caused "significant customer attrition and trading difficulties" at Russell Hume.