Wetherspoons drops supplier over meat fears

The Wetherspoon pub chain has cancelled its contract with meat supplier Russell Hume after being forced to pull dishes from their menus.

Pub managers were told “to chuck” tens of thousands of kilos of beef and gammon after the supplier said there was a “labelling issue”.

The problem came to light when customers out for Wetherspoons’ Tuesday Steak Club were instead offered chicken or halloumi and quinoa.

Jamie Oliver restaurants, Greene King pubs, Tiger Tiger and Marston’s pubs were also affected, as was Butlin’s and Haven owner Bourne Leisure.

Wetherspoons say they still have not been given an explanation by Russell Hume Ltd and the supplier’s website is down.

The pub chain, which runs 900 pubs across the country, told customers steak had been pulled from all their pubs due to “quality issues with our meat supplier”.

And they say they have now found alternative suppliers ahead of next week’s Steak Club.

The Food Standards Authority has said an unannounced visit to Russell Hume Ltd’s Birmingham site uncovered instances of “serious non-compliance” with food hygiene regulations.

The FSA, which has been forced to defend itself amid accusations of a cover up, is advising anyone with meat from Russell Hume, including care homes and schools, to dispose of it, or return it.

Tim Martin, chairman and founder of pubs group Wetherspoon

Image: Tim Martin, chairman and founder of JD Wetherspoon

Tim Martin, Wetherspoon chairman, said: “Firstly we wish to apologise to our customers for the inconvenience caused to them.

“However, our decision to stop serving steak from Tuesday (January 23), despite limited information from the supplier, was the correct one.”

Mr Martin said his pubs dish out around 200,000 steaks a week.

He added: “On Wednesday (January 24) the FSA reported that they were thoroughly investigating Russell Hume Ltd, but also stressed that there was no indication that people had become ill from eating meat supplied by them.”

After the steak was pulled some customers were less understanding than others.

“I can’t believe a multi-million pound organisation like Wetherspoons can’t sort this out – it beggars belief,” Michael Rousell, 62, from Weston Super Mare told The Sun.

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James Jarvis, 27, in Scarborough, said: “When they told me they had it but could not sell it to me I just walked out.

“They told me they had an issue with the supplier. I told them I couldn’t give a f***. I just want something to eat.”