Company fined over £100,000 for food safety and hygiene offences

August 30, 2016

Birmingham Crown Court imposed a total fine of £105,000 on a major corporation with an annual turnover of £1.6 billion on 19 August 2016 for three breaches of the Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013. Richard Barraclough QC prosecuted the case for Birmingham City Council and David Travers QC, instructed by Eversheds LLP, represented the company which pleaded guilty to offences relating to an infestation of mice and an unclean kitchen at a public house in Birmingham.

The offences occurred in February 2015 and were committed to the Crown Court for sentence by the magistrates.

The case is one of the first food cases dealt with in the Crown Court under the Health and Safety Offences, Corporate Manslaughter and Food Safety and Hygiene Offences Definitive Guideline effective from 1st February 2016.

The company had sound policies and procedures at national level but had failed at a local level to ensure that those policies were properly implemented and the fabric of the building sufficiently maintained. In consequence the infestation became widespread. There was no evidence that any individual had in fact suffered harm.

Culpability was agreed as being properly characterized as in the “medium” category. After hearing argument the judge found the harm to be “category 2”. This meant that the starting point for a company with a turnover in excess of £50 million was £90,000 and the range of fines was from £35,000 to £220,000 unless the judge thought the interests of justice required him to go outside that range because of the very large turnover of the defendant in order to achieve a proportionate sentence.

The total fine of £105,000 imposed was divided equally between the three offences against the Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013.