We have launched an 8-week consultation on the introduction of new food ‘compliance notices’ (CNs), which are intended to help enforcement officers deal quicker and more fairly with suspected contraventions of rules on food standards, such as incorrect or fraudulent product labelling.
Local authority food enforcement officers currently have limited powers, in the event of any suspected food standards regulation breach - intentional or not – by a business, other than to submit a report to the Procurator Fiscal (PF), or serve a Seizure and Detention notice to remove potentially harmful or non-compliant products from the market.
Raymond Pang, FSS Senior Enforcement Manager, said those processes can often be time-consuming, unduly damaging to the businesses involved, and are not proportionate to what can often be issues as simple as unintentional labelling breaches.
“We feel a report should only go to the Procurator Fiscal, in cases of serious breaches, such as fraud or consistent non-compliance of food standards regulations,” he said.
“This proposed notice will highlight the regulation that might have been breached, what a business has to do to comply, and when, before any action is taken.
“As a result, they will give authorised enforcement officers the option of taking a more graduated, step-by-step approach to enforcement. This is a proposed new system of improvement, too, to work alongside businesses to ensure food standards are adhered to.”
We are now seeking the views of local authority enforcement officers who inspect food businesses and enforce food legislation, food businesses across sectors such as manufacturing, packaging and labelling of food products, catering, and retailers, and consumers.
Mr Pang said FSS will work to ensure businesses that might be affected by the new notices, are made fully aware of their potential impacts, including cost.