- Russell Hume, a meat supplier to restaurants, catering businesses, care homes and schools, has been ordered by the United Kingdom's Food Standards Agency (FSA) to halt all deliveries off the premises after the FSA conducted a surprise inspection on Jan. 12, revealing "instances of serious non-compliance with food hygiene regulations,” CIPS reported.
- Citing "supplier failure," JD Wetherspoon has canceled its steak orders, as has the Jamie Oliver Group and Hilton. Reportedly, Tiger Tiger, Greene King and Marston’s are also clients of Russell Hume.
- Adjuno business development director Alan Gunner said the withdrawal could have been prevented, "if the chain had invested more in their supply chain diversity."
The day after I saw this article, Panera Bread announced they were pulling containers of cream cheese from their restaurants due to positive tests for Listeria, a bacteria that can cause severe symptoms. This is on the heels of the E. coli bacteria scare with romaine lettuce, one in which the CDC says is officially over. But there will be others.
If you’ve already had your breakfast, check out the FDA’s Twitter feed on food recalls. They have almost 4,500 tweets about food related product recalls since they began tweeting in 2008 ... which averages to about 450 per year. And these are just the ones that they knew about. Far too many food issues go unreported by companies or ignored by the afflicted public.
The news is filled with stories of closed restaurants, including some national chain restaurants, for hygiene issues. Some are as a result of poor operational processes, while others have contaminated food that had been delivered by suppliers. Companies depending on the food supply chain are particularly vulnerable to quality-related risk. No matter the supplier, the store or restaurant with the contaminated food takes the brand hit and the scorn of the public. After all, they are in full control of the supply chain.
This winter, the public is inherently more interested in hygiene due to the dramatic increase in influenza. Offices, schools and factories seem to operate in a haze of antibiotic hand cleaner fumes. And that increased vigilance has spread to watching people prepare food. The line in my local coffee shop dissolved recently when those watching the barista sneeze onto a set of cups continued to serve customers.
The food supply chain is really no different than other supply chains. The suppliers are under intense pressures to maintain low pricing and adherence to strict delivery schedules. In that high-pressure environment, some hygiene related steps my be forgotten — or skipped — as the pressures to deliver mount. Add labor shortages and sometimes training and commitments to hygiene suffer. Issues in the supply chain can cause unhappy customers. Issues in the food supply chain can sicken them.