Title: Food Safety Act
Category: England, Wales and Scotland Law
Reference: 1990 Chapter 16 [Full text]
This legislation sets out the requirements of the food producer and handler with respect to food safety.
The main offences which the Act considers involve regulations regarding the altering of foodstuffs; and the legislation provides a framework for the enforcement of testing of foodstuffs at source.
The Act states that it is an offence to render any foodstuff dangerous to health by:
(a) Adding a substance to a food (i.e. using any substance as an ingredient in its preparation).
(b) Treating or processing a food, if produced for human consumption.
In addition, it is an offence to sell or advertise food not complying with the requirements of the Act.
If any quantity of food in a batch is found to be contaminated or unfit for human consumption, then the entire batch is considered to also be unfit, unless subsequently proven to be safe.
Since the act is in place to protect the consumer, it is also an offence to market foodstuffs which do not meet the quality demanded. In addition, a false description or presentation of foods which may mislead the consumer is also considered an offence.
Special regulations are in place for the production and distribution of milk. These designate milk of any description a special provision, so that licences must be issued to dairy farmers and intermediate handlers, authorising its supply to the consumer. Any premises used in the food industry must also be licensed, by registration with the enforcement authorities.
A clause exists for the protection of the producer under certain circumstances beyond his control. This states that, so long as it can be proven that either:
- The situation is due to the actions of another person beyond his control
- A previous handlers checks have been relied on, or
- There was general ignorance of the actions leading to an offence,
this serves as defence for the charged food producer.
The Act states how a food authority may contribute to the expense of staff training in food hygiene, for those in the food business only. It also sets out powers of food authorities to regulate the industry and enforce the act. An officer of a food authority is permitted to inspect any foodstuff intended for sale at any time. This power is applicable to food premises at any reasonable hour of the day. However, in the case of dwelling houses, a 24 hour notice period to the occupier is required in most cases. Upon inspection, an officer may serve an improvement notice. If such a notice is ignored, this then becomes an offence.
Pertinence to Agriculture: Food Production, Health & Safety