General Food Law
The Food Standards Act 1999 establishes the Food Standards Agency (FSA) as the governing body with certain powers and functions in relation to food safety and standards. The Act gives the Agency the functions necessary to act in the consumer’s interest at any stage in the production of food and the supply chain. It also provides the Agency with powers to maintain a scheme for testing of food borne diseases. The Food Safety Act 1990 (as amended) provides a framework for food regulations in the UK. The General Food Regulations 2004 amends the Food Safety Act 1990 to bring it in line with European Law under (EC) 178/2002.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA)
The main aim of the FSA is to protect the public from any risks which may occur from the consumption, production and/or supply of food. The FSA continually aims to make regulations easier to understand which helps all to comply. The Red Tape Challenge was introduced in 2011, which helps reduce the regulatory burden on businesses whilst still complying with the law. Once a year the FSA makes known a list of all the new regulations pertaining to the food industry. This includes European measures being introduced.
Regulation (EC) 178/2002 sets out the general guidelines for food safety within the EU. The provisions under this law extends to imports, exports, traceability, recalls and notifications.
Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998
Workers who are aware of wrong doing within the food business can disclose that wrong doing. As long as they raise their concern in accordance with the Act’s provisions, they are entitled to a level of protection. A qualifying disclosure would include information on criminal acts, breaches of legal obligations and miscarriages of justice. The Freedom of Information Act may also be relevant here.
Food Information Regulation
This varies geographically within the UK, for example, in England food labelling is led by the FSA but in Wales, the Welsh government is also involved as well as the FSA. Some changes ahead include nutrition labelling becoming mandatory in 2016 and as of December 2014, food establishments must declare any of 14 identified allergenic ingredients which are used in non-prepacked or loose foods that are for sale.
Codex is a collection of internationally recognized standards regarding food, food production and food safety. As of 2012, there were the 186 member countries. The standards are voluntary and adherence by member countries is not compulsory.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
The HSE is a non-departmental public body which was established under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The HSE acts on behalf of the Safety Commission in implementing Commission policies. The HSE enforces Health and Safety Law throughout the UK and offshore businesses (within UK shoreline territory). The HSE and the FSA work together to keep each other informed regarding food matters. Each acts as an advisory consultant to the other. They work together to ensure co-ordination of enforcement demands.