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Wessex Foods fire won't disrupt meat supplies, insists Burger King

By Ben Bouckley , 14-Jul-2010

Burger King will not run out of burgers this summer, despite a devastating fire at one of its key UK suppliers, bosses have insisted.

Speaking to FoodManufacture.co.uk in the wake of Sunday night's catastrophic fire at the Lowestoft factory of frozen meat products supplier Wessex Foods, a Burger King spokesperson said:

“We have contingency plans in place as part of our supply chain agreements and as such have arranged to switch production to another of our suppliers, who already produce a large portion of our beef.

“We do not expect any disruption as a result of this fire.”

Although Wessex Foods (which is part of the Irish Food Processors group) was exploring opportunities to temporarily switch production to other sites, it would not give details of how much spare capacity was available or how quickly it could move.

A spokesman declined to comment on Burger King's supply arrangements.

Over 100 fire-fighters and two air support units worked throughout Sunday night to contain the blaze, which at one point threatened a nearby supermarket with an attached petrol station and other retail units.

Contractors are reportedly set to start clearing 700 tonnes of burnt meat from the factory today, while fire crews were working to ensure that contaminated water did not get into the local water course.

Helen Dodman from Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service told FoodManufacture.co.uk:

"The fire is still burning we have one crew from Lowestoft, a support crew from Woodbridge and an aerial platform from Yarmouth at the scene."

Kevin Burton, area manager, Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service said: “We’ve still got a number of pockets of fire. Contractors will remove the meat product, which is very smelly. There are a lot of issues over how to do that safely.”

Anne-Marie Breach from Suffolk Police told FoodManufacture.co.uk on Monday that there was no indication of suspicious circumstances “at this stage” and it was believed the fire started accidentally inside the factory.

“A handful of workers were onsite at the time – potentially four but we can’t confirm that figure at the moment. Luckily no-one was hurt.”

The Lowestoft factory employed 150 staff and produced frozen burgers and mince for multiple retailers and food service clients. Wessex Foods is part of Irish Food Processors group (IFP), one of Europe’s leading meat processors with a turnover in excess of €1bn.

Wessex Foods’ website claims that the company produces 60% of the UK’s frozen retail mince and 16,500 tonnes of frozen burgers annually.

03:43 pm 16 September 2014