Individuals: Breach of food safety and food hygiene regulations

Food Hygiene (Wales) Regulations 2006 (regulation 17(1)), Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013 (regulation 19(1)), The General Food Regulations 2004 (regulation 4)
Effective from: 01 February 2016

Triable either way

Maximum: when tried on indictment: unlimited fine and/or 2 years’ custody when tried summarily: unlimited fine

For offences under The General Food Regulations, the maximum when tried summarily is an unlimited fine and/or 6 months’ custody

Offence range: Conditional discharge – 18 months’ custody

User guide for this offence

Step 1 – Determining the offence category

The court should determine the offence category using only the culpability and harm factors in the lists below. Where an offence does not fall squarely into a category, individual factors may require a degree of weighting to make an overall assessment.


Very high

Where the offender intentionally breached, or flagrantly disregarded, the law


Actual foresight of, or wilful blindness to, risk of offending but risk nevertheless taken


Offence committed through act or omission which a person exercising reasonable care would not commit


Offence committed with little fault, for example, because:

  • significant efforts were made to address the risk although they were inadequate on this occasion
  • there was no warning/circumstance indicating a risk to food safety
  • failings were minor and occurred as an isolated incident


The list below contains factors relating to both actual harm and risk of harm. Dealing with a risk of harm involves consideration of both the likelihood of harm occurring and the extent of it if it does.

Category 1

  • Serious adverse effect(s) on individual(s) and/or having a widespread impact
  • High risk of an adverse effect on individual(s) – including where supply was to persons that are vulnerable

Category 2

  • Adverse effect on individual(s) (not amounting to Category 1)
  • Medium risk of an adverse effect on individual(s) or low risk of serious adverse effect
  • Regulator and/or legitimate industry substantially undermined by offender’s activities
  • Relevant authorities unable to trace products in order to investigate risks to health, or are otherwise inhibited in identifying or addressing risks to health
  • Consumer misled regarding food’s compliance with religious or personal beliefs

Category 3

  • Low risk of an adverse effect on individual(s)
  • Public misled about the specific food consumed, but little or no risk of actual adverse effect on individual(s)