Food safety convictions on the increase!

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Published: 21 May 2019

In recent times fatalities relating to allergens, implementation of food hygiene ratings and food safety prosecutions have made headlines. The implications of not meeting legal compliance can result in significant financial penalties for business's and individuals being issued prison sentences.

Since the inception of the Sentencing Guidance in 2016, fines issued for food safety offences have been on the increase. It has recently been reported that research carried out by NFU Mutual revealed that the number of businesses sentenced in court for food safety and hygiene offences have more than doubled since 2013.

The number of firms convicted of offences rose from about 60 in 2013 to 130 in 2016, remaining stable in the years since.

Since 2016, fines for organisations increase by approximately £5,000, according to an impact assessment published by the Sentencing Council in April.

Of those convicted of food safety and hygiene offences in 2017, 94% received a fine and the average amount demanded was £7,100, up from £2,200 under the previous regulations.

The impact assessment also found a small rise in fines issued against individuals, such as directors or senior managers. The number of individual offenders convicted rose from 180 in 2015 to 260 in 2017 with 92% receiving fines. The average amount demanded rose from £930 before the guideline change to £1,300 afterwards.

CSC advice to limit exposure to prosecution:

  • Ensure that the company, as a minimum, has a food safety management system based on HACCP principles.
  • Ensure that all hazards and critical control points are identified and monitored to eliminate or minimise potential food safety risks.
  • The Company food safety policy must be followed with particular focus placed on ensuring that due diligence temperature monitoring requirements are conducted and documented in the specified time scales.
  • Ensure that all issues identified by the EHO during formal food safety inspections are addressed.
  • Ensure that significant findings raised during third party audits are addressed.

The date for mandatory display of hygiene ratings in England is getting closer. With this now already enforced in Wales and Northern Ireland, never has the drive to obtain and maintain a superior hygiene rating been more important.

If you need help on how to meet legal compliance and limit exposure to prosecution contact us for a chat