Timothy Thompson of Kangs Solicitors comments on the legislation and regulations concerning labelling of food on pre-packed items.
The public is entitled to feel safe in the knowledge that the food purchased and eaten is safe for consumption, properly regulated to ensure that it is safe, and that all packaging and labelling accurately represents the nature and content of the food being purchased.
The Legislation and Regulations | Kangs Trading Standards Solicitors
The primary piece of Legislation in force in England and Wales in respect of Food Standards is the Food Safety Act 1990 which is supported by numerous Regulations that deal with specific parts of the food industry.
The Food Information Regulations 2014, which came into force on the 14th July 2014, enables local authorities to enforce the European Food Information to Consumers Regulation No 1169/2011 (The FIC).
The FIC modifies previous legislation in relation to food labelling and it establishes the general principles of, and the requirements and responsibilities of food business operators governing the provision of food information to consumers, and, in particular, to food labelling.
The FIC’s Key Provisions | Kangs Regulatory Team | Food Law Solicitors
These apply to ANY food intended for sale direct to the consumer:
- Article 6
“Any food intended for supply to the final consumer or to mass caterers shall be accompanied by food information in accordance with this Regulation.”
- Article 7
All information should be clear, accurate and easy to understand and above all should not be misleading
- Article 9
The food must be labelled with certain information, including:
- Name of the food
- Information on allergens contained within
Where labelling is required, it should be:
‘in a language easily understood by the consumers of the member states where a food is marketed’.
Responsibility of Food Retailers and Wholesalers | Kangs Advisory Team
Retailers must make sure that all food and drink they sell displays all the compulsory information which must be in English.
Additionally, when some of the customers are likely to be non-English speakers, labels should also reflect the language of those potential consumers.
The compulsory information should appear on a label on one of the following:
- the packaging
- attached to the packaging
- clearly readable through the packaging
The FIC requires that if food is ‘intended for the final consumer but marketed at a stage prior to sale to the final consumer’ it must comply with the Regulations.
Food is considered to be ready for delivery to the consumer if the packaging will not be changed prior to sale by the final retailer.
The responsibilities for compliance also lie with the wholesaler, which must ensure that the food complies with the Regulations unless the retailer will repackage it.
Enforcement & Penalties | Kangs Trading Standards Defence Solicitors
In the first instance, the retailer or wholesaler, may receive a visit from an Officer appointed by the Food Standards Agency.
Dependent on the alleged breach, this could be an Officer from Trading Standards or Environmental Health.
Following this visit, the officer may supply the retailer/wholesaler with an Improvement Notice.
Failure to comply with this Notice can amount to a criminal offence under the Food Safety Act 1990 which carries a maximum penalty on conviction of an unlimited fine and up to two years’ imprisonment.
Furthermore, failure to display allergen information, where required, may amount to an offence under the Food Information Regulations 2014 which carries the maximum penalty on conviction of an unlimited fine.
How Can Kangs Solicitors Help You? | Kangs Food Safety Solicitors
We have a team of Solicitors specialising in the defence of Regulatory cases brought by agencies such as Trading Standards and Environmental Health.
We are experienced in dealing with officers from these agencies and our experience in this field is widely respected and recognised. We are regularly instructed at all stages from the initial visit by the local authority to court proceedings in the Crown Court and beyond.
Should you require advice on anything relevant to this article please contact our Regulatory Team through one of the following:
24 Hour Advice | Kangs Rapid Response Team
Should you receive a visit from an Officer, you are advised to contact our 24/7 rapid response service on 07989 521210) and one of our Solicitors will be sure to advise you as to how to proceed in the circumstances.