All those involved in the food chain will be aware of the regular inspections by Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) seeking to ensure compliance with Food Safety legislation. Not all realise that if food premises are not kept clean and in a good state of repair this can, and often does, result in criminal prosecutions with high financial penalties.
Many food businesses suffer pest problems and if an EHO finds an infestation it is likely the business will be forced to close as well as this being the start of a criminal investigation.
It is vitally important that early specialist advice is sought if a business is alleged to have contravened Food Safety legislation – certainly if a Formal Notice (Improvement Notice or Prohibition Notice) is served as an Appeal should always be considered.
As with the Police, EHOs can seek an interview under “caution” which will be tape recorded; what is said in that interview may well influence whether there is a prosecution and if so the outcome of that prosecution.
We have been defending food businesses from small family firms to FTSE 100 companies for 30 years successfully appealing Formal Notices, advising in interviews, speaking at meetings with Enforcement Officers and representing clients in court. We have successfully presented due diligence defences (this being where it has been shown that even though there were contraventions, the food business has done all it reasonably can to ensure compliance) resulting in the business being found not guilty in cases which have been officially recorded, reported and used by many other professionals in the defence of their clients.
If your business has a problem with an EHO – however great or small – please ring us at any time. We appreciate that such problems can, and often do, arise out of normal working hours!
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