“BCL’s ‘extremely capable’ team is noted for its ‘clear strength in regulatory investigations’. ”
BCL’s food safety and hygiene specialists have extensive experience in acting for a wide range of food businesses and individuals in the food sector, from multinational supermarkets and large restaurant groups operated by Michelin-starred chefs to smaller operations facing the attention of the Food Standards Agency or Environmental Health Officers.
There are myriad food safety laws controlling the production, distribution, packaging and sale of food with which businesses must comply. Our comprehensive experience covers issues including food safety, hygiene, hazard analysis and critical control points (“HACCP”), labelling, packaging, traceability and allergies.
Following the implementation of the Sentencing Council’s ‘Health and Safety Offences, Corporate Manslaughter and Food Safety and Hygiene Offences’ Definitive Guideline, penalties for these offences have risen significantly. A business’ response to an incident is crucial to the outcome and we provide specialist advice to support clients in navigating this complex and often unfamiliar legal area.
If a business is faced with an investigation by a regulator, we provide practical, commercial and clear advice. Our experience, expertise and technical ability, combined with our commercial awareness, ensures that clients receive expert advice to achieve the best possible resolution. BCL has particular expertise in providing advice in challenging and time pressured situations. We are renowned for being involved in serious, complex and high profile matters with an associated public interest and are adept at providing early strategic advice in order to respond to such complex reputational emergencies, ensuring minimal damage to the business and its employees.
We are ranked for our regulatory expertise in the legal directories, including Chambers & Partners and The Legal 500. We are included in GIR’s list of the world’s leading investigations firms and named as the leading firm in the ‘Financial Crime & Fraud & Regulatory’ category of The Times Best Law Firms 2021.
Our specialists provide advice and representation to food business operators in areas such as:
- Crisis management.
- Responding to Food Standards Agency (FSA), National Food Crime Unit (NFCU), and Local Authority investigations following food safety incidents and site inspections.
- Regulators’ powers, including compelled requests for documentation and witness interviews.
- Legally privileged internal investigations.
- Product recalls of unsafe food.
- Challenging enforcement notices (e.g. Hygiene Improvement Notices and Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notices / Orders).
- Appealing Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) scores.
- Requests to attend PACE interviews under caution.
- Defending prosecutions for alleged breaches of food safety and hygiene law (including the defence of due diligence), corporate manslaughter and gross negligence manslaughter in the Magistrates’ Court and Crown Court.
- Representation at Coroners’ inquests and inquiries.
Successfully defending an individual in relation to the Food Standard’s Agency’s (National Food Crime Unit) high-profile investigation into Russell Hume Limited.
Successfully defending a national food business operator following an allergen incident.
Successfully defending a restaurant group operated by a Michelin-starred chef following an allergen incident.
Advising a national retailer regarding breaches of food safety legislation at one of its stores in London which resulted in the Local Authority shutting down the store with a hygiene emergency prohibition notice and prosecuting the company for food hygiene offences.
Advising a food business operator, part of a global chain, regarding a food hygiene prosecution relating to one of its London branches.