FSA Meat Industry Update: Breaches in food safety lead to review of standards

Published: 8 Mar 2018

Russel Hume have been the subject of talks in the food industry following breaches in food safety. As a result of significant breaches, Russel Hume has shut down after all production was suspended following the food standards scare which unfortunately left hundreds of people without jobs.

The FSA has now revealed some alarming facts and figures from across meat cutting plants in the UK. The UK currently has more than half of audited meat cutting plant with at least one major breach in food safety over the past 3 years, and almost two thirds of audited meat cutting factories (540 out of 890) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland with at least one instance of major non-compliance with hygiene or food safety regulations.

Russel Hume has been the centre of the recent food hygiene concerns due to multiple failures, with 25 breaches occurring at plants belonging to the company. However, the Food Standards Agency figures showed an average of 16 plants a week had a safety infraction between 2014 and 2017.

The breaches at the factory were across a number of stages in production including not maintaining legal temperature control, cross contamination, poor hygiene and poor management of food safety systems.

Cross contamination is when bacteria is spread around which can be between equipment, surfaces or food products. Cross contamination is the most common cause of food poisoning and controls must be in place to reduce the chance of cross contamination in a food business. Traceability is also a legal requirement and this is done by food businesses ensuring they have a good food safety management system and keep records of food production throughout, from farm to fork.

The facts show that the UK needs to improve standards, which has led to the Food Standards Agency (FSA) England and Scotland to propose a full review of ALL premises where meat is stored and processed with further enquiries into poultry plants.

On the 1st of March 2018 the FSA announced the following:

  • Work with industry to implement CCTV across cutting plants
  • Increased intelligence gathering through audit data sharing pilots across industry
  • Improved insight into circumstances and factors leading to non-compliances and ability to anticipate them.

The review which was launched on 1st March 2018 will look to help improve consumers confidence in the meat industry, reduce the current risk to the public, look at the whole supply chain and also educate those in the business of food safety on factors which can lead to non-compliance.

The recent failings in the meat industry have really brought to light the importance of maintaining high standards at site and ensuring good traceability from farm to folk.  Including the importance of continuous auditing to ensure premises maintain high standards and are well educated in the importance of food safety.