The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has lifted enforcement action at the company’s Liverpool site following inspections of the premises.
According to the FSA, the decision to allow production to resume was given on the basis that the FSA was “assured that the food being produced at the Liverpool site complies with the relevant legislation”.
It said the action taken had been proportionate and it recognised the potential impact on the business and people’s livelihoods.
An FSA statement said: “Production and distribution was halted at all Russell Hume sites over two weeks ago until the business could provide assurances they were complying with relevant legislation.
“During this time the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Food Standards Scotland (FSS) have worked intensively with the business to address concerns raised by our investigation. As a result, we are assured that food being produced at the site is compliant. FSA staff will remain present during operations.”
Other sites still under investigation
The FSA and FSS are still investigating six Russell Hume sites across England and Scotland.
It added: “The lifting of the statutory notice will have no impact on the ongoing FSA and FSS investigation, which is continuing, and staff for both organisations remain present at sites in England and Scotland.”
The suspension of production began following an unannounced inspection of Russell Hume’s Birmingham site on January 12, which uncovered “instances of serious non-compliance with food hygiene regulations”.
Production at the processor, which distributes meat to UK clients such as Wetherspoon, Jamie Oliver restaurants, Greene King and Marston’s, was halted on January 26, with production withdrawn.
The FSA moved to reassure the public that “at no stage in the process has there been any indication that people have become ill from eating meat supplied by Russell Hume”.
Meat cutting review
Off the back of the Russell Hume situation and the 2 Sisters Food Group hygiene breach allegations in September, the FSA and FSS have launched an industry-wide review of meat cutting premises and cold stores.
A joint statement from Heather Hancock, chairman of the FSA, and Ross Finnie, chair of FSS, said: “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.”
More details on the review are expected later this month (February).