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Butchers owner hits back at Food Standards Agency report after recalled products

16:59 23 December 2016

Nicholls Meats butchers shop, Great Yarmouth.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Nicholls Meats butchers shop, Great Yarmouth. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2016

The owner of a local chain of butchers has disputed a report from the government’s Food Standards Agency, which stated it had to recall stuffing and cocktail sausages this week.

In a statement issued today, Michael Wright, owner of Nicholls Meats Ltd - which has shops in Great Yarmouth, Gorleston, Lowestoft and Thetford - has addressed health warnings published by the FSA, giving his version of the events.

Mr Wright says a number of the products recalled were pulled before they even reached the shelves.

The statement read: “The incident occurred on Monday, December 19. Nicholls Meats purchased a consignment of over-produced stuffings - foods which were made in November 2015 with an agreement that all products would be use by either December 2015 or December 2016.

“If the stuffings and cocktail sausages were deep frozen to minus 20 degrees then the supplier agreed that we could defrost them and give them five to 10 days life. The supplier even emailed this to the Suffolk Environmental Health Officer (EHO) and via a conference call with the Norfolk EHO and myself on Tuesday, December 20 at 2.30pm, we were ready to follow their guidelines.

“We had nine pallets in storage but when we pulled three of them out we discovered that 20 or so cases were used by 2014 and were dropped at the Lowestoft store and Gorleston store. These were put on hold and not released to general sale.

“The EHO then entered the scene and made a huge fuss of this when they knew very clearly we did not have them on sale or had any intention to sell. The product was on hold awaiting my attention,

“Due to the vast amount of meat we had in the stores these were left out of the fridge (as they were not being sold). Things then escalated to FSA who then spoke to our supplier who at first didn’t even realise they sold me the product until I reminded them of the £7,000 I paid them for it.

“They didn’t even know that the salesman who sold me the product had agreed that the product was safe and that as long as it was kept frozen at minus 20 then it could be used up to one year after manufacturing. This is standard practice in food manufacturing.

“At this point Nicholls Meats decided to withdraw all stuffings, stuffing balls and cocktail sausages from all stores and also the stock in the cold store (not the EHO, but Nicholls) and instructed the cold store to take back all the stock from stores and along with the cold store stock, to destroy all stock and send all parties a destruction certificate ,

“The Norfolk EHO even recommended that we sell them at Easter so we didn’t lose out financially under strict defrost procedure (we rejected this offer)

“The same day I put a statement on Facebook telling all customers that there will be no stuffing in the hampers and they could choose a replacement.

“Then by complete surprise we saw an FSA alert, but it said pork products, which then created panic, but when you read the full article it says cocktail sausage and stuffings (60pc of which were still in cold store on hold awaiting destruction and hadn’t even been delivered to any store

“No pork sausage , pigs in blankets or sausage meats were part of this stock, all our pork sausages are made from FL Edge and are made daily for us.

“No pork product was affected either - all our Pork is purchased from Towers & Co or Midland Foods.

“Nicholls Meats have invested over £250,000 in our stores and we would never put food safety or customers at risk for the sake of profit. We operate a good company and all products are clearly labelled. We take advantage from both UK and EU buying to offer great prices just like many others

“As soon as we realised we may have a problem, we withdrew all the stuffings and cocktail sausages - not the EHO or FSA.

“We have also contacted any customer who may have had the stuffing of which there were only a few and made sure all the stuffing has been disposed and a refund or replacement offered

“We have to add the support from Norfolk EHO was second to none and they helped and supported us through this incident”

11 comments

  • Steak is very different to processed meat like what is used in stuffing mixes...and if your interested Nicholls meats in Gorleston had a big amount of 'fresh meat' to shift before they closed today,pop down and get some.

    Report this comment

    greenmanwalking

    Saturday, December 24, 2016

  • I read somewhere that they dug up mammoth's deep frozen for twenty thousand years, and meat was still edible. But anyway obnoxious Rees Mogg said if its good enough for India its good enough for us, so expect the food standards agency to be the next victim of government cuts.

    Report this comment

    trev57

    Saturday, December 24, 2016

  • Quote "Any good Butcher will tell you if the meat is fresh when frozen 6 months is about the limit for the quality". There's frozen and there's deep frozen to the minus 20deg, I've seen boxes of steak 10 years old or since frozen, tasted fine to me.

    Report this comment

    Tony

    Saturday, December 24, 2016

  • It's enough to make you go vegetarian !!

    Report this comment

    Lover of Norfolk

    Saturday, December 24, 2016

  • sounds like the salesman was a right arthur daly, maybe selling excess stock that the supermarket had no idea it had been sold on to a third party.

    Report this comment

    calmudownboy

    Saturday, December 24, 2016

  • So the supplier initially didn't know they had sold these goods and then didn't know what the sales person had said??? Well, they sound like a real great bunch of people to be buying stuff from to chuck into the food chain. FSA don't issue documents like this for no reason and I would further suspect if the content was wrong or damaging that Nicholls would instruct legal proceedings against them. The whole thing sounds dodgy and as has previously been said, what proper butcher buys in supermarket excess to sell on??? Without doubt that was a money making based decision and the choice of supplier, who appears to be conveniently anonymous, was also ill thought out. No smoke without fire gents, you know the rules! Well done EHO and FSA for DOING THEIR JOBS!

    Report this comment

    Urbancommander

    Saturday, December 24, 2016

  • Quote; If the stuffings and cocktail sausages were deep frozen to minus 20 degrees then the supplier agreed that we could defrost them and give them five to 10 days life. Well if i was trying to sell you dodgy products i would tell you want you want to hear. Any good Butcher will tell you if the meat is fresh when frozen 6 months is about the limit for the quality. Mr Wright reads as a very naive person.

    Report this comment

    greenmanwalking

    Friday, December 23, 2016

  • @Anonymous : Why would David Hannant "comment"? Perhaps unusually for the press, both sides appear to have been fairly presented - the facts surrounding the product recall this morning, and the response of the owner this afternoon. The journalist has done his job here. Personally I would concur with the view taken by MooseyT20.

    Report this comment

    point du jour

    Friday, December 23, 2016

  • Would the original journalist David Hannant, David.Hannant@archant.co.uk like to comment on behalf of his paper regarding the Butchers statement?

    Report this comment

    Anonymous

    Friday, December 23, 2016

  • You cant have out of date stock sitting around, and expect environmental health to believe you when you say it isn't for sale. It really is as simple as that. Even if his excuses are genuine, they need to protect against those that do this who aren't and lie. Also I wonder how many of his customers thought they were getting freshly made butchers stuffing, not mass produced supermarket stuff? According to their FB page none of their customers care.

    Report this comment

    MooseyT20

    Friday, December 23, 2016

  • This butcher seems to be blaming everybody but himself whilst admitting that he just happened to notice "20 or so cases" were two years out of date?

    Report this comment

    Joe_Orton

    Friday, December 23, 2016

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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