Food law and enforcement

Enforcement of food laws

Guide

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) works with local council environmental health officers and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) to make sure that food and animal feed law is applied across the entire food chain. The way they work together is set out in the Framework Agreement.

The Framework Agreement

The Framework Agreement gives the FSA the means to use its powers to influence and oversee local council enforcement activity. The agreement applies to local enforcement of all food laws and includes the latest guidance and standards on food law enforcement. It provides for:

  • local service plans to increase transparency of local enforcement services
  • agreed food law enforcement standards for local authorities
  • enhanced data monitoring
  • an audit scheme to identify possible improvements

There is a Food Law Code of Practice and a Feed Law Code of Practice. These set out how local authorities should apply food law.

Powers of local enforcement officers

Local enforcement officers can:

  • inspect any stage of the food production, manufacturing, distribution and retail process
  • enter premises, seize and detain foods
  • take samples of food for testing to ensure compliance with food legislation
  • take action against a food business operator who does not comply with food law

Local authorities are responsible for investigating any food complaints that consumers make to them. Their enforcement officers can issue warnings, improvement notices, remedial action notices or prohibition notices. They will also consider starting prosecution proceedings in serious cases. The courts can impose heavy penalties for non-compliance with food laws, including closing the business if conditions are particularly bad.

Find your nearest local authority to report a food problem or register a food business.