News > Business

Food hygiene, the law

By Rod Hunt , 05-May-2010
Last updated the 10-Dec-2010 at 17:01 GMT

Related topics: Business, Hygiene, Restaurants, Hotels, Pubs & Bars

If you work in the hospitality industry, you will be in no doubt that it is one of the most heavily regulated business sectors. But do you know what the consequences are for your business and its employees if there is a breach of food safety rules?

Breaking food hygiene rules could land you in trouble

Breaking food hygiene rules could land you in trouble

If you work in the hospitality industry, you will be in no doubt that it is one of the most heavily regulated business sectors. But do you know what the consequences are for your business and its employees if there is a breach of food safety rules?

Food hygiene is paramount and failure to ensure it could mean a wide-ranging and expensive investigation, a tape recorded interview under caution, a prosecution in the criminal courts, and the inherent ramifications of a conviction.

Who Enforces the Law?

There are a number of regulatory bodies that enforce food safety legislation in England and Wales. Predominantly, it is the Environmental Health Departments of local authorities who inspect to ensure compliance and take enforcement action where they think it is appropriate. However, the Meat Standards Agency and the Food Standards Agency can bring prosecutions, and there are other bodies who may also become involved in food safety investigations (such as the Health Protection Agency).

What are the Consequences of Non-Compliance?

The ramifications for your business (or one of its employees) if there is a breach of food safety duties include:

 

  • Investigation by the relevant regulators using criminal powers, to include powers of arrest.
  • Being asked questions in a tape recorded interview under caution at the regulator’s premises.
  • Prosecution in the Criminal Courts. If convicted, this could mean having to pay a fine (or even imprisonment for individuals), being ordered to pay a contribution towards the costs of being prosecuted, and being disqualified to act as a director for up to 15 years.
  • Adverse publicity associated with any prosecution, which could include the matter being reported in the local papers.
  • Being served with a statutory notice requiring certain steps to be taken within a stipulated period. Failure to comply with a statutory notice is a separate offence which can be prosecuted.
  • Criminal convictions have further wide-ranging ramifications for businesses and individuals. Individuals may encounter problems travelling abroad when declaring the fact they have a criminal conviction and may even be refused entry.

 

What Should Your Business be Doing?

To avoid being the subject of enforcement action, your business should ensure it has robust food safety standards and procedures in place. It can do this by: Reviewing its existing systems and procedures to ensure they are compliant; Monitoring its systems and procedures to ensure ongoing compliance; Keeping up to date with legal developments, and amending its systems and procedures accordingly; Ensuring that its employees are fully trained in its procedures, and documenting the training regime; Establish and maintaining a good working relationship with regulators; Ensuring you have access to expert legal advice in respect of complying with your food safety duties, and also to protect the business and its employees if there is an investigation by a regulator.

Rod Hunt is a partner in the regulatory team at law firm Halliwells - 0161 618 5357 or rod.hunt@halliwells.com

Read more articles in this series here .

BigHighlights

Mark Poynton: Pearls of Wisdom

Mark Poynton: Pearls of Wisdom

The British chef-patron of the Michelin-starred Alimentum and star of Great British Menu Mark Poynton talks about...

Interview with Glendola Leisure's Alexander Salussolia
Small Talk

Alexander Salussolia on Silk & Grain, market niches and nurturing future talent

Managing director of Glendola Leisure Alexander Salussolia joined the company in 1992 as an area manager, before...

60-Second Skill: Using #foodporn to your advantage

60-Second Skill: Using #foodporn to your advantage

Customers posting pictures of your food on social media is a trend you can't escape, but by...

Gallery: the UK’s first experiential craft brewery Drygate Brewing Co.

Gallery: the UK’s first experiential craft brewery

New Glasgow venture Drygate Brewing Co. claims to be the UK’s first experiential craft brewery, offering a...

Hospitality Openings: June 2014

Hospitality Openings: June 2014

Our latest round of up of the hottest hospitality openings includes Heston Blumenthal’s Heathrow venture The Perfectionists’ Café,...

60-Second Skill: Pouring champagne

60-Second Skill: Pouring champagne

As demonstrated at the Moet UK Sommelier of the Year competition, champagne pouring requires skills and knowledge....

Find us on Facebook

Digital Edition - Restaurant Magazine

Access to the Restaurant Magazine digital edition