Food law and enforcement

Food law enforcement agencies


In the UK, day-to-day responsibility for enforcing food controls 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
  • devolved agriculture and rural affairs departments, including Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in Northern Ireland

Most food law is 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.

Food law enforcement in Northern Ireland

  • DAERA Agri-food Inspection Branch enforces food law for primary producers (ie farmers - except dairy and egg producers)
  • local authorities enforce food law for food businesses like cafes, restaurants and food shops
  • the Veterinary Public Health Unit of DAERA enforce meat inspection for meat establishments
  • the DAERA Agri-food Inspection Branch in Northern Ireland enforces rules for milk and milk products for dairy producers
  • DAERA Agri-food Inspection Branch is responsible for enforcement of egg packers complying with hygiene regulations for egg producers
  • local food authorities are responsible for enforcement in other food businesses that produce products of animal origin, such as fisheries businesses