IT CLAIMS to age its meat in-house for “up to 70 days” and boasts of carcases being handpicked at its Scottish abattoir.
But now it has emerged that Jamie Oliver’s exclusive London butchery Barbecoa was temporarily closed after inspectors found serious hygiene problems including mouse droppings, mould on carcases and out-of-date meat.
Carcases hanging in basement chillers were found to have mould growing on them, slicers and vacuum packers were left dirty and expensive wagyu beef, marrowbone, oxtail, onglet steak and lomo de cana – a Spanish-style pork – was found to be out of date.
The butchery, which supplies the celebrity chef’s barbecue restaurant of the same name, had to close for a day before re-opening after the list of issues was addressed, a move which a Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group spokeswoman said was voluntary and not enforced.
This is the latest hygiene issue to hit the chef’s business empire, after dead mice were found next to tables at his Jamie’s Italian restaurant in Edinburgh just three months after opening in 2012.
Pest controllers were called in to the venue, although Edinburgh City Council’s environmental health department were not made aware of the problem.
Oliver’s London butcher’s shop, located near St Paul’s Cathedral in the City of London, was scored just one out of five by health and safety inspectors when they visited in January.
The Food Standards Agency website lists the score for the inspection with the comment “major improvement necessary”.
In one case, chicken breasts which had been deboned were removed from their box, vacuum packed and relabelled with a date set for a week later, City of London inspectors said. They also highlighted the fact that there was no safety management system in place.
The butcher’s shop, which offers would-be butchers the chance to learn the art of chopping up carcases in classes costing up to £225, was also found to have dirty fridge door handles, inadequate washing facilities for staff, poor lighting, damaged flooring and a “heavy presence” of mouse droppings.
The Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group said dry-ageing of meat on the bone encouraged the natural formation of mould and was common practice in butcheries.
The shop website boasts that staff “searched the length and breadth of the UK to find the very best meats” giving the example of its “Scotland abattoir” where it says a man called Jim Taylor hand-selects every piece of meat.
“At our Scotland abattoir, our beef is hand-selected by Jim Taylor who, for every 800 carcases he sees, will probably pick out around six for us,” it says.
The restaurant was founded in 2010 by Oliver and American chef Adam Perry Lang. The food has received largely positive reviews and its own health inspections have all been good.
A spokeswoman for the Jamie Oliver Group said: “Following the environmental health inspection in January, we took the immediate decision to voluntarily close the butchery for several hours in order to urgently address the issues raised.
“We reopened within 24 hours and the environmental health officer (EHO) noted that the improvements had been made.
“We have since continued to receive very positive feedback from the EHO with regards to all improvements and we are confident that the butchery will achieve a high rating in its next inspection.
“Issues such as this areextremely rare within the JO Restaurant Group and are treated with the utmostseverity.”
Oliver became the face of supermarket giant Sainsbury’s through an endorsement deal worth £2 million a year and has also embarked upon a school dinners campaign to improve the quality of food fed to pupils.
In 2011, Oliver, an advocate of learning to cook meals from scratch, caused controversy after it turned out the sauces used in Jamie’s Italian in Glasgow were from an industrial park almost 400 miles away in Bicester.