What happens once we have the food?
Once we have the food, we will decide on the most appropriate course of action. There are often many people involved in supplying an item of food including retailers, wholesalers, importers, packaging companies and manufacturers.
In many cases we need to contact most, or even all, of these people during the course of an investigation, in order to try and establish exactly what went wrong and at what point in the food chain.
On other occasions the only way to find out what is wrong with the food is to have it analysed by a laboratory. An analyst's report can sometimes tell us if objects found in food have got in before or after manufacture. This is particularly important when trying to decide who is responsible for the complaint. Another very important part of some investigations is contacting the Local Authority in the UK that inspects the premises where the food has been made. They will give us details of how good the hygiene is at the factory, whether there have been similar complaints in the past and what procedures are in place to try to prevent things going wrong.
What enforcement options are available?
At the end of an investigation, there are a range of options open to the Directorate ranging from taking no action at all, to prosecuting the person or company at fault. The decision on which option is most appropriate will depend upon a number of factors including:
- the nature of the complaint;
- whether there have been other similar complaints;
- the measures the alleged offender already has in place to try to prevent such a complaint occurring; and
- what else they are going to do to try and prevent it happening again.
The Food Safety Unit cannot obtain compensation on your behalf, or become involved with any claim for damages you may have suffered as a result of purchasing food. The Directorate deals exclusively with criminal law and is unable to pursue compensation claims of a civil nature. Our first priority is public health. The Food Safety Unit is able to pass your name and address details on to those responsible (with your permission). Often this will result in you receiving a letter of explanation or apology, and sometimes vouchers for replacement products.
It should also be noted that investigations often take several weeks because of necessary delays caused by waiting for reports from companies, other Local Authorities in the UK and/or analysts.
For further information on enforcement, please contact the Food Safety Unit on 01624 685894.