Heather Hancock, Chairman of the Food Standards Agency and Ross Finnie Chair of Food Standards Scotland, jointly commented:
'In the last six months the FSA and FSS have faced two serious incidents involving major players in the meat sector. People rightly expect food businesses to keep to the rules, rules designed to keep consumers safe and to sustain public trust in food - and food businesses have a duty to follow the regulations.
'In the light of these recent incidents, the FSA and FSS will be taking forward reviews of cutting plants and cold stores used for meat. Further details will be published later this month and the results will be fully available to the public.'
Russell Hume investigation
The Food Standards Agency and Food Standards Scotland investigation continues and the areas of interest for the investigation include the extended use of use by dates, and the food safety management system that the business has in place.
Jason Feeney, Chief Executive of the FSA said:
'Our investigation into the major non-compliances we found at the Russell Hume plants in England and Scotland is intensifying. We have already stopped these plants producing meat products, have ensured the withdrawal and disposal of the products and now we are looking at the root cause of the incident and any culpability. The investigation is looking into all aspects of the business to establish more details about the serious and widespread problems that we identified. This will then determine whether additional enforcement action should be taken. Therefore we will be unable to make any further comments on the detail of the investigation.
“It remains the case that there is no indication that people have become ill from eating meat supplied by Russell Hume and we continue to assess the situation working with the relevant public health bodies.'
Slaughterhouses, Cutting Plants and Game Handling Establishments require veterinary control in accordance with Article 4(7) of Regulation (EC) No 854/2004 and must be approved by the FSA in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and by FSS in Scotland. However, unlike slaughter houses, cutting plants do not require veterinary control on a daily basis and are inspected through periodical and unannounced visits by the FSA, FSS or local authorities.
Cutting plants are wholesale butchery establishments engaged only with the cutting of meat and boning out of carcases.