The Food Standards Agency has published food law enforcement data from Local Authorities for the year 2016 to 2017. The link below will take you through the Food Standards Agency website where you can find the interim enforcement statistics for 2016/2017 on UK Food Hygiene Data and UK Food Standard Data.
This data is released ahead of the full statistical report by the Food Standards Agency, which will be available later in July. The Agency has a significant plan to improve transparency when presenting individual Local Authority food hygiene and food standard statistics. This is part of an initiative to assist Local Authorities in understanding their powers and to give them the ability to benchmark themselves against other Authorities.
What is clear from previous comparable reports is that there is a growing enforcement drive in regulatory food law. Operators should be looking closely at the data to see whether they are in an authority area which is keen to lead with formal prosecutions. We cannot be more robust in our advice. Please do not wait until you receive your prosecution before instructing lawyers to help with these matters. With the significant increase in potential fines upon prosecutions it is more imperative than it has ever been for you to seek legal advice at the earliest sign of potential interaction with a Local Authority. It is very much in operators’ interests to have representation through any investigation proceedings and formal interviews. We have seen recently operators undertake these elements themselves, perhaps in the hope of making a potential costs saving, however, this can often lead to a significantly more expensive end bill when facing prosecutions at Court. By this stage, if we haven’t been involved from the outset, it can often be difficult to prepare a robust defence or mitigation. It is critically important that advice is sought as soon as the issue is flagged up by any Local Authority interaction.
The data show that there have been a disproportionately large number of prosecutions in certain areas of the country, which is reflective of the range of approaches taken by different Local Authority areas.
There is still a high number of premises being dealt with by written warnings, particularly in the London Boroughs, with, in 2016-2017, Havering writing letters of warning to 763 premises, Hounslow 721 premises and Tower Hamlets 1,310 premises. There are significant variations throughout the country and we await the full statistical report.
If operators need assistance in due diligence to avoid warnings and prosecutions, or representation throughout the regulatory enforcement process, then please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07702 802506.