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    Tuesday, 17 January 2017

    Recall Slights Legitimate Business



    Food retail establishments Asda and M&S had some of their own-label pork stuffing stock recalled by the FSA just before Christmas. The reason for the recall? Surplus stuffing was redistributed to a chain of butchers in Norfolk, going against brand policy. The redistribution took place without either establishment’s knowledge.

    Finnebrogue is the label responsible for producing Asda and M&S own-label products, including the pork stuffing in question. The stuffing posed a risk of food poisoning because the ‘use-by’ dates were extended and products may not have been kept at the proper temperature in transit, according to the FSA. This is grounds for recall due to labeling and traceability contraventions. Pork stuffing on shelves in Asda and M&S were not affected by the recall as these products were not subjected to label tampering or unsatisfactory traceability; FSA said in their alert that the food retail establishments were “not involved in the distribution or facilitation of the incident.”

    The excess pork stuffing products were sold to Nicholls Meat in November 2015, according to Nicholls owner Michael Wright. One of the terms of the sale was that products kept in deep freeze could have a 12-month shelf life extension which, according to Wright, “is not uncommon in the food industry.” In regards to the sale: “We have six stores so the volume was too great for one year and needed to last the full 12 months. We paid just under £7,000, and all products we used had use-by dates of 30 December 2015 so we were happy.”

    All remaining product was stored at Nicholls coldstore in Hemswell. Nicholls Meat removed 60 cases from cold storage to sell over Christmas; however, staff then realised that half of the products removed had a ‘use-by’ date of December 2014. Wright claims that they “immediately put this product on hold in store” following the discovery. The other half of the product, dated December 2015, was up for sale as usual “under the life extension as we thought correct,” said Wright. In the midst of the discovery, a Suffolk Environmental Health Officer (EHO) visited Nicholls Meat. All 60 cases of product were seized, even those boxes dated December 2015 and still valid for sale.

    After examining the case, the Suffolk EHO told Wright that the product was okay to use given a ‘do not refreeze’ label was affixed. Despite the go-ahead to sell, the Norfolk EHO spoke with Wright and Finnebrogue in a conference call. It was agreed that the product marked December 2015 was suitable for either defrosting in a chiller with a five-day window for sale or sold frozen affixed with a ‘do not refreeze’ label. In response, Wright “turned this down because at this late stage before Christmas we could not defrost in the chiller, only ambient. The Norfolk EHO then suggested using it for Easter but at this point I had had enough and decided to voluntarily destroy all the stuffings in store and at Hemswell.”

    Wright is now seeking legal action over the FSA recall.

    Finnebrogue claims that the products, sold out from under uninformed Asda and M&S, were sold by a consultant at the company and not by authorised personnel. With the help of the FSA’s National Food Crime Unit, Finnebrogue is investigating the incident to gain a full understanding. A spokesperson said, “This transaction was the first sale of our products to a third party to occur in our company history.”


     Jacqui Litvan

    Jacqui Litvan, wielding a bachelor's degree in English, strives to create a world of fantasy amidst the ever-changing landscape of military life. Attempting to become a writer, she fuels herself with coffee (working as a barista) and music (spending free time as a raver).
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    Item Reviewed: Recall Slights Legitimate Business Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Food Safety Co
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