Organisations: 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 when tried summarily: unlimited fine

Offence range: £100 fine – £3 million fine

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

Deliberate breach of or flagrant disregard for the law


Offender fell far short of the appropriate standard; for example, by:

  • failing to put in place measures that are recognised standards in the industry
  • ignoring concerns raised by regulators, employees or others
  • allowing breaches to subsist over a long period of time

Serious and/or systemic failure within the organisation to address risks to health and safety


Offender fell short of the appropriate standard in a manner that falls between descriptions in ‘high’ and ‘low’ culpability categories Systems were in place but these were not sufficiently adhered to or implemented


Offender did not fall far short of the appropriate standard; for example, because:

  • significant efforts were made to secure food safety 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 groups 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)