Food law enforcement plan
Resources are targeted towards the most significant hazards and higher risk premises.
This is generally achieved by employing national inspection rating systems that ensure more frequent inspections to food premises where the hazards are greatest, standards of compliance poor and the confidence in management low. In addition, complaints are triaged and prioritised for intervention having regard to risk.
In 2010-11 flexibilities introduced through the revision of the national Food Law Code of Practice, provided scope for the Authority to introduce ‘verification’ visits in place of full inspections for ‘broadly compliant’ premises in food hygiene risk category C, and for those in food hygiene risk category D. In 2017, this was extended to “broadly compliant” premises in food standards risk category B and for those in food standards risk category C. This approach helps ensure that the Authority’s resources are focussed on securing
improvements across the poorest performing businesses, while helping to reduce the inspection burden on those that are more compliant.
With finite resources available, there has to be a reasoned choice in the best mix of different enforcement techniques, having regard to what will have the greatest impact on strategic priorities and what provides best value for money.
It is also recognised that different organisations are motivated in different ways and so respond to different blends of intervention (i.e. those methods and techniques, including inspection, education and awareness-raising, which are used to influence behavioural change in managing food hygiene and standards, so as to improve levels of compliance). In this respect, the Authority will be guided by available research and guidance.
The Authority has signed and endorsed the principles of the Enforcement Concordat, and has adopted an Enforcement Policy for Food Safety and Standards Enforcement. The policy is founded on the principles of: standards, openness (and transparency), helpfulness, proportionality (and the targeting of resources and enforcement actions), and consistency.
Decisions to institute legal proceedings and to administer ‘simple cautions’ have been delegated to the Head of Legal and Democratic Services. These decisions are guided by recommendations put forward by investigating officers, the Public Protection Manager (Health and Consumer Protection) and the Head of Environmental Services and Public Protection.
The following table provides a breakdown of enforcement action taken by the Food Safety and Standards Team during 2021–22:
Number of premises
|Hygiene improvement notice||11||6.3%|
|Food standards improvement notice||0||0.0%|
|Remedial action notice||1||0.6%|
|Hygiene emergency prohibition notice||0||0.0%|
|Seizure/detention of food||0||0.0%|
The option of serving Remedial Action Notices and Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notices is only available for food hygiene enforcement. However, statutory Improvement Notices are available for hygiene and standards enforcement.
There were no businesses prosecuted or that received a Simple Caution for contraventions of food law.
The number of actions undertaken are significantly lower than in the years preceding the Covid-19 pandemic, which reflects the reduction in the number of inspections undertaken in the year 2021-22.