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Pest infestation prosecutions

Pest infestations pose a significant challenge to businesses in the food industry, leading to disruption that can last for weeks and have costly economic impacts. They may include rodents, flies, and stored product insects. These pests pose significant threats to food business operators and can lead to various issues such as contamination, damage to property, and health risks.


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Food industry legislation

There are several pieces of legislation that govern the food industry in relation to pest infestation they include:

Pest Control Act 1981: this concerns pests deemed harmful to public health or agriculture.

Environmental Protection Act 1990: this act covers various environmental issues, including waste management and pollution control. Part II of the act specifically addresses statutory nuisances, which can include pests such as rodents or insects. Local authorities have the power to issue abatement notices to individuals or businesses responsible for pest infestations.

Food Safety Act 1990: while primarily focused on food safety, this act also touches upon issues related to pests in food premises. It requires food businesses to maintain hygienic conditions and take appropriate measures to prevent contamination from pests.

Public Health Act 1936 and Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984: these acts provide powers to local authorities to act against the spread of infectious diseases, including those transmitted by pests. Authorities can issue orders for the cleansing and disinfection of premises to control disease vectors.

The principal body responsible for regulation, enforcement, and prosecution in relation to pest infestations are local authorities. Local Environmental Health Departments are responsible for enforcing regulations related to food safety standards and premises hygiene. Issues can be found following routine inspections. Similarly, if the local authority receives a complaint or report from a concerned individual, such as a customer, employee, or neighbouring business, regarding suspected pest infestation at the premises they will come and make an initial assessment to evaluate the extent of the issue. During an on site visit they will collect evidence and may interview business owners or employees to gather additional information about pest control practices, waste management, cleaning routines, and any previous pest control measures taken. From this they will assess if there is a risk to public health, food safety and the environment. If there is a risk identified , enforcement actions could involve issuing formal notices, such as improvement notices or prohibition orders, requiring the business to take corrective action to address the infestation. Follow up monitoring visits are likely to ensure that the issues have been resolved.

In some instances, businesses may be issued with Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Orders and could ultimately face prosecution that can be against the company or an individual director or even employee of the company. Companies can face hefty fines and in the worst cases, individuals can face prison sentences.

How can we help?

Our specialist solicitors can help businesses at every stage from advising the business on how to respond to the complaint or report in a manner that protects them at the outset, preparing the business for the initial assessment by advising on what information to provide and how to cooperate with the investigating authorities, informing you on how to respond to enforcement actions, such as improvement notices or prohibition orders,  representing at any legal proceedings that may result from non-compliance.

We can also advise the business in implementing the necessary pest control measures to comply with enforcement notices and liaise with the authorities to ensure that they are satisfied with the steps taken. Where more serious offences occur we can represent you and your business to the in court, presenting your case and defending your interests.

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