Food safety & food hygiene solicitors

Stephensons has a team of specialist regulatory lawyers who provide advice and representation to individuals and businesses facing food safety and food hygiene investigations and prosecutions. Our specialist regulatory lawyers understand the intense pressure on food business operators to ensure strict compliance with food safety and food hygiene laws. Breaches of these laws can lead to significant financial penalties and in the most serious of cases, custodial sentences as well as adverse publicity. It is therefore important to protect your business and reputation with advice from a specialist before you take any action. Defending you and your business is our primary concern. For a confidential, no obligation discussion regarding your case, please contact our specialist lawyers now on 0203 816 9274.

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How can we help you?

Our specialist team of lawyers act for food business operators nationwide in relation to the following:

  • Food safety and food hygiene investigations and prosecutions
  • Interviews under caution
  • Hygiene improvement notices
  • Hygiene prohibition notices
  • Hygiene emergency prohibition notices/orders
  • Detention notices
  • Food condemnation orders
  • Food hygiene rating appeals
  • Food labelling and packaging.

If you require any food safety and food hygiene advice or support in relation to any of the above, you should seek specialist legal advice as soon as possible in order to protect your interests. For a confidential discussion with a member of our team, please contact us on 0203 816 9274 or complete our online enquiry form.

Frequently asked questions 

What is a food hygiene rating?

Environmental health officers (EHO) inspect food businesses to monitor whether food business operators and their premises are compliant with food safety law. Following the inspection, the EHO will award the food business operator with one of the following ratings:

0 – Urgent improvement necessary
1 – Major improvement necessary
2 – Improvement necessary
3 – Generally satisfactory
4 – Good
5 – Very good

Food hygiene ratings are based on a number of factors, including the condition of the premises, how the food is prepared, stored, cooked, re-heated and cooled, and how the food business operators manage and record the measures they take to ensure food safety.

Can I appeal a food hygiene rating?

If you believe your food rating is unfair or wrong, you can appeal against the rating. The appeal must usually be made in writing to your local authority within 21 days of receipt of your notification letter.

Can I refuse an environmental health officer entry to my food premises?

The Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013 stipulates that you must permit an environmental health officer to enter your food business premises to carry out an inspection provided it is carried out at a ‘reasonable’ hour. In most circumstances, this would usually be your normal operating business hours. Inspections are often unannounced, however, if you operate from a private dwelling, the environmental health officer must give you 24 hours’ notice of their visit.

It is a criminal offence to intentionally obstruct an environmental health officer from acting in the execution of the hygiene regulations or to fail to give them any assistance or information which they reasonably require for the performance of their functions under the regulations, without reasonable excuse.

Can an environmental health officer take food from my food premises?

Yes. An environmental health officer can seize food from your food premises without your permission if it appears that the food will be or has been placed on the market for human consumption, or is found by the officer in the premises during an inspection.

Why is a food business inspected?

There a number of reasons why food businesses are inspected. Your local council will carry out routine inspections to monitor your compliance with the food safety and food hygiene standards and legislation. They may also inspect your food business following a complaint about the food or the condition of your premises, or if there has been a report of food poisoning.

What are the HACCP principles?

A food business operator must have a food safety management system in place to keep food safe from biological, chemical and physical food safety hazards. This is something which an environmental health officer will look for and assess during an inspection. The system must be based on the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles:

  1. Any hazards must be avoided, removed or reduced
  2. Identify the critical control points which are critical to ensuring food safety
  3. Set limits for the critical control points
  4. Monitor the critical control points effectively
  5. Take action if there is an issue with a critical control point
  6. Make sure you review your HACCP system to check it is being followed correctly and is working
  7. Keep records to demonstrate your system working

What is the time limit for a food safety or food hygiene prosecution?

The prosecution of an offence under the Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013 must begin within three years from the commission of the offence or one year from its discovery by the prosecutor, whichever is the earlier.

For a confidential discussion with a member of our specialist food safety and food hygiene team, please contact us now on 0203 816 9274 or complete our online enquiry form.

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