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Food industry warning following hygiene scandal

An expert in food safety regulation is warning food providers of the need to ensure compliance with the law following a high-profile case.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has now reported on the recent scandal involving the 2 Sisters Food Group, which saw the business investigated by undercover reporters raising questions about the company’s food standards.

Production was suspended and supermarkets halted purchases from the company.

Terry Griffin, regulatory partner in the Litigation department at regional law firm Napthens, advises a number of food producers in Lancashire and Cumbria, and is warning the sector to be aware of the high-profile case and lessons to be learnt from it.

He said: “There is a heightened awareness at the moment about the FSA, with recent focuses on best before dates and traceability – issues that can confuse consumers.

“The FSA is also entitled to carry out on-the-spot checks on food producers, which has left many nervous of potential outcomes for the business.

“There is plenty to learn from the report – as a result, 2 Sisters has made a number of changes to working practices including installing upgraded CCTV and improving staff training which goes some way to showing what other businesses can do.

“Breaking the law can result in significant repercussions. Reputational problems can have a potentially devastating effect on a business, in this case with major supermarkets halting their orders.

“New sentencing guidelines introduced in 2016 look at the level of fault by a business, if there was willful disregard of regulations or instances of falling below reasonable industry standards. Businesses can face large fines which vary depending on turnover and the seriousness of the risk to consumers.

“There can also be personal consequences, to individuals or those trading in partnerships facing possible imprisonment in certain circumstances

“Most producers are conscientious and responsible businesses, and this recent scandal merely highlights how important it is to ensure practices and procedures are all up-to-date and follow the necessary regulations.”

For further advice on this issue please contact Terry Griffin.