Food law and enforcement

Food law enforcement agencies


Executive responsibility for enforcing food controls in the UK is centralised. In practice, day-to-day responsibility is divided between central and local government.

The central food law enforcement authorities in the UK are:

  • the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland
  • Food Standards Scotland in Scotland
  • the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and its agencies
  • agriculture and rural affairs departments in the devolved administrations

Most food law is monitored and enforced by local councils throughout the UK. The FSA supervises local council enforcement and works with local enforcement officers to make sure food law is applied throughout the food chain. 

Primary producers 

The enforcement authorities for 'primary producers' (ie farmers - except dairy and egg producers) are as follows in the UK:

Other food businesses 

Local authorities throughout the UK are the enforcement authorities for food businesses like cafes, restaurants and food shops.

Meat establishments

In Northern Ireland the enforcement authority for meat inspection is the Veterinary Public Health Unit of DAERA.

The FSA is the main enforcement authority in England, Scotland and Wales for approved meat establishments subject to rules on hygiene for food of animal origin. These include:

  • slaughter houses
  • game handling establishments
  • meat cutting plants placing fresh meat on the market

The FSA is also responsible for establishments co-located with the above in which the following products are also produced:

  • minced meat
  • meat preparations
  • mechanically separated meat
  • meat products
  • rendered animal fats and greaves
  • treated stomachs, bladders and intestines
  • gelatine and collagen

Throughout the UK local authorities are responsible for enforcement of products such as minced meat and meat preparations in approved stand-alone establishments. They are also responsible for enforcement in establishments exempted from approval under Regulation 853/2004.

Dairy producers

The DAERA Agri-food Inspection Branch is the enforcement authority for milk and milk products in Northern Ireland. The Dairy Hygiene Inspectorate of Defra is the enforcement authority for dairy producers in England and Wales. Local authorities are responsible for enforcement in Scotland.

Egg producers

The DAERA Agri-food Inspection Branch is responsible for enforcement of egg packers complying with hygiene regulations in Northern Ireland. Local authorities are responsible for enforcement in egg producers in England, Scotland and Wales.

Producers of other products of animal origin

Local food authorities are responsible throughout the UK for enforcement in other food businesses subject to Regulation 853/2004, such as fisheries businesses.