Judgement in Significant Pet Feed Safety Case Handed Down

September 29, 2023

Today the High Court (Eyre J) handed down judgment in R (Fold Hill Foods Ltd) v Food Standards Agency [2023] EWHC 2271 (Admin) which was a significant judicial review and associated £4.5m damages claim for breach of the Claimant’s Article 1, Protocol 1 rights.

The claim concerned the Food Standards Agency’s response to an outbreak of Pancytopenia in cats in 2021. Pancytopenia is a rare disease, with the Royal Veterinary College seeing approximately one case in cats every five years. In 2021 over 100 cats died from the disease. The FSA, who took a leading role in the investigation of the cause of the outbreak, began to investigate the claimant feed business and advised that the claimant withdraw their cat feed from sale because there was epidemiological evidence linking the claimant’s cat feed to the outbreak.

The High Court rejected all of the claimant’s grounds of claim and held that the FSA acted lawfully and rationally in linking the claimant’s feed to the outbreak of pancytopenia and advising that its products be withdrawn from sale. The case involved the court having to grapple with complex issues of fact and law including the application of the EU law concept of the ‘precautionary principle’ in pet feed cases, the deference to be paid to an expert regulator’s assessments of risk and the correct approach to assessing epidemiological evidence. The court’s decision will be of considerable interest to those involved in the pet feed industry, those interested in consumer protection and public bodies who may be called upon to make decisions based on contested scientific issues.

The judgment is available here.

Doug Scott was junior counsel for the Claimant

Nicholas Ostrowski acted for the Food Standards Agency