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Which? consultation response to the Sentencing Council Guidelines

Food safety and hygiene offences can cause significant harm to consumers and even death. It is important that there are effective deterrents in place to ensure that there is compliance with food law requirements, whatever the size of business

In 2014/15 the Sentencing Council consulted on draft guidelines for sentencing health and safety, corporate manslaughter and food safety and hygiene offences.  

Which? welcomed this move to strengthen and clarify the guidelines in order to ensure that they better reflect the severity of these types of offences and act as an effective deterrent. A number of food incidents previously highlighted the discrepancy between the potential financial gain and consumer detriment from offending compared with the penalties that could be applied. Furthermore, the large scale contamination of beef products with horsemeat, for example, illustrated the complexity of the food supply chain, involving a diverse range of businesses of varying sizes.

This paper sets out the Which? response to the consultation, which was broadly supportive. In addition, Which? suggested:

∙ Additional clarification around the scope of legislation that is included.

∙ Further strengthening the guidelines in order to give greater weight to the potential to cause harm as well as actual harm and to better reflect the potential severity of misleading practices.

∙ Ensuring the guidelines deal effectively with the diverse range of businesses involved in this sector and that any fines are applied at the relevant scale, particularly when dealing with national businesses with multiple outlets.

Read the full response here:

Which? consultation response to the Sentencing Council Guidelines 256 Kb

[The final guidelines, published in February 2016, can be found here: