J Sainsbury's in-house legal department is playing a key role in steering the FTSE 100 retailer through the largest product recall in UK retail history.
Jillian Hardwicke, a senior product law adviser at Sainsbury's, is handling all the legal issues arising out of the recall of products containing the colouring known as Sudan 1.
Hardwicke stepped in because Sainsbury's in-house legal function is part of the retailer's serious incidents committee, which includes representatives from its retail, distribution, technical and customer distribution arms.
Sainsbury's head of group legal services David Thurston confirmed the legal team was an integral part of the serious incidents committee. He added that Hardwicke has made a valuable contribution because of her special knowledge of products law.
The colouring, which is banned from being used in food in the UK, found its way into a batch of chilli powder that was used in a large consignment of Crosse & Blackwell's Worcester sauce. The sauce was then added as an ingredient to at least 359 products, including a number of supermarket own-brand products.
Thurston concluded that Sainsbury's is now considering how best to recover the costs incurred in recalling the affected products.