The change to UK sentencing guidelines for food hygiene offences to include prison sentences and large fines, was a positive change, in my view, to the way that the courts saw poor food hygiene.
Part of the food hygiene regulations state that food shall not be placed on the market if it is unsafe. Food is deemed to be unsafe if it is considered to be:
- injurious to health
- unfit for human consumption
The penalties include:
- on conviction in a Crown Court, a fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or both
- on conviction in a Magistrates’ Court, a fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or both
These have been used in cases against a pub chain, wholesalers and take-aways where those responsible were imprisoned.
To avoid these penalties, here are 5 tips to avoid jail for food producers.
- Ensure that the food is what you say it is. Label it correctly
- Make sure that you declare the correct allergens There are 14 food allergens that the customer MUST be informed about. Make sure you and your staff know what is in the food you supply.
- Ensure that all documentation is accurate and not fraudulently produced. Documentation must be filled out in a timely fashion. Documented internal audits (checks) will help with your defence, when any errors are corrected and this is also recorded.
- Follow safe practices for handling food, including cooking and cooling. Training and documented records will ensure that you and your team are following best practice and the law.
- Perform a risk assessment or HACCP analysis (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point). Conduct regular audits of your business and record them. Your due diligence defence will rely on documentary evidence. Reducing the risk of hazards in your food will show that you treasure your customers’ health and your business’ reputation.
I have extensive experience in manufacturing and supply chain compliance, with a passion for integrity and making systems as simple as possible. I can help avoid these mistakes.
I offer a “fresh eyes” audit of your business. This will save you unlimited amounts of stress and loss of earnings with your customers. Alternatively, check my Guardian and Guided packages to see if these could help you.