The purpose of the Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013 (‘the Regulations’), which came into force on 31 December 2013, was to consolidate the provisions relating to food hygiene and food safety provisions into one Statutory Instrument in order to simplify the previous system of food legislation and to equalise the penalties in respect of offences for both aspects.
Sukhdip Randhawa of Kangs Solicitors, who regularly defends clients charged with alleged offences arising under the Regulations, indicates the nature of the offences which can be committed, potential defences and penalties which may be imposed for breach.
For an initial, no obligations discussion, please contact our team at any of our offices detailed below:
Offences | Kangs Environmental Health Defence Solicitors
Schedule 2 of the Regulations contains numerous Articles setting out a wide range of Requirements including that, by way of a small example:
- food exported or re-exported from the EU to third countries must comply with the relevant requirements of food law, except in certain specified circumstances.
- unsafe food must not be placed on the market.
- the labelling, advertising and presentation of food must not mislead consumers.
- food business operators must ensure traceability of food, including having systems in place to identify businesses from which they have been supplied and to which they have supplied food.
- where there has been a breach of food safety requirements food business operators must, in specified circumstances, recall and/or withdraw the affected food and inform consumers and the competent authorities.
- food business operators, as appropriate, adopt certain specific hygiene measures.
- food business operators retain documents and records for an appropriate period.
- food business operators ensure that establishments are approved by the competent authority when approval is required.
- food business operators ensure that importation of products of animal origin only takes place where certain conditions are met.
Potential Defence For Breach | Kangs Food Safety Defence Solicitors
Defence of due diligence
Regulation 12 of the Regulations provides that:
(1) ‘In any proceedings for an offence under these Regulations, it shall, subject to paragraph (5), be a defence to prove that the person accused (“the accused”) took all reasonable precautions and exercised all due diligence to avoid the commission of the offence by the accused or by a person under the control of the accused.
(5) If in any case the defence provided by paragraph (1) involves the allegation that the commission of the offence was due to the act or default of another person, or to reliance on information supplied by another person, the accused shall not without leave of the court be entitled to rely on that defence unless —
(a) at least seven clear days before the hearing; and
(b) where the accused has previously appeared before the court in connection with the alleged offence, within one month of the first such appearance,
the accused has served on the prosecutor a written notice giving such information identifying or assisting in the identification of that other person as was then in the possession of the accused.’
Offences By Corporate Bodies | Kangs Food Law Defence Solicitors
Where offences are alleged to have been committed, summonses will frequently be issued not only against the company but also against a specific individual by virtue of Regulation 20 which provides that:
(1) ‘where an offence under these Regulations, which has been committed by a body corporate, is proved to have been committed with the consent or connivance of, or to be attributable to any neglect on the part of any
(a) director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of the body corporate; or
(b) any person who was purporting to act in such a capacity,
that person, as well as the body corporate shall be deemed to commit that offence and is liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.’
Punishment For Breach | Kangs Food Hygiene Defence Solicitors
Regulation 19 provides that a person guilty of an offence under the Regulations is liable as follows:
- on summary conviction before a Magistrates’ Court, to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum; or
- on conviction on indictment before a Crown Court to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, to a fine, or both.
Regulation 18 provides that no prosecution for an offence under the Regulations shall be begun after the expiry of:
- three years from the commission of the offence; or
- one year from its discovery by the Prosecutor, whichever is the earlier.
How to Contact Us | Kangs Food Safety & Hygiene Defence Solicitors
Kangs Solicitors has substantial experience arising from dealing with Environmental Health officers from Local Authorities across England and Wales and we aim to work proactively with our clients in an effort to secure an early favourable resolution to matters.
We welcome new enquiries by telephone or email.
Our team of lawyers is available to meet at our offices in London, Birmingham or Manchester or, alternatively, we are happy to arrange an initial, no obligations, meeting by telephone or video conferencing.
For initial enquiries please contact: