The Food Safety Act 1990 applies to food businesses in England, Scotland and Wales. 'Food Businesses' refers to any business which handles food, and this includes most businesses involved in the food production journey, from manufacturers to distributors and to restaurants. The Food Safety Act 1990 prioritises the health and safety of consumers, and therefore businesses which are involved with food in any kind of way will most likely fall under the scope of the Food Safety Act 1990.
What is the Food Safety Act 1990?
The Food Safety Act became law in 1990 and provides a framework for food hygiene and food safety legislation in England, Scotland and Wales. The responsibilities which food businesses are expected to uphold are established in this Act.
Responsibilities for food businesses:
- To ensure that there is nothing included in food or removed from food which could damage the health of consumers.
- To ensure that food is of the nature, substance and quality which a consumer would expect.
- To ensure that food is not labelled, advertised or presented in a way which could be misleading.
Who does the Food Safety Act 1990 apply to?
Essentially, the Food Safety Act 1990 applies to all businesses in England, Scotland and Wales which deal with food. This includes the production, the transport, the labelling, the serving and the selling of food to consumers. Therefore, the following are examples of the many food businesses which must comply with the Food Safety Act 1990:
- Corner Shops
- Catering Companies
- Food Manufacturers
- Food Packaging Companies
- Food Distribution Companies
According to the Food Safety Act 1990, the main offences are:
- Rendering food injurious to health (Section 7)
- Selling, to the purchaser's prejudice, food which is not of the nature or substance or quality demanded (Section 14)
- Misleadingly describing or presenting food (Section 15)
In September 2019, a mouse and fly infestation resulted in the closure of a restaurant in Oxford. The restaurant, My Sichuan, was given a prohibition notice by local authorities after the dire food safety and hygiene standards were uncovered following an investigation. The unsafe conditions in which food was being prepared breached the Food Safety Act 1990. Breaches of the Food Safety Act 1990 are taken seriously due to the serious consequences which can occur to consumer health.
In December 2019, the Artichoke pub in Hertfordshire was fined £23,000 after a Christmas meal resulted in a severe food allergy. The KOB (The Artichoke) Ltd pleaded guilty to offences under the Food Safety Act 1990, following a consumer who was served a starter which triggered an allergic reaction. The starter contained milk, even though the staff had been informed of the consumer's dairy allergy. The organisation failed to follow the correct procedures which would ensure that the consumer's health was protected. The consumer suffered an anaphylactic shock which required immediate medical attention at the hospital. This was an extremely dangerous situation and demonstrates how food safety legislation needs to be upheld to ensure consumer health is not compromised.
Therefore, it is important to understand whether the Food Safety Act 1990 applies to your business and how to comply appropriately.