Published: 13 March 2020
Picture this scenario: You are asked to cater for a 25th Wedding Anniversary celebration. You apply for a late licence and your kitchen team prepares the food. The whole event goes really well and everyone seems to enjoy it.
Over the next couple of days you are inundated with telephone calls from people who claim to have food poisoning and are suggesting that you are the source. As the number of complaints grow so does your level of concern. At least one of them has threatened to report you.
You will hopefully have good food safety systems in place in any event. If an Environmental Health Officer (EHO) does contact you they will go through all of your policies, training documentation and risk assessments.
If they are able to identify your food as the source of the outbreak of food poisoning you can be prosecuted for selling food which is unfit for human consumption. If your training systems and risk assessments are inadequate you can be prosecuted in relation to those failings in any event. Worse still, if someone were to die as result of the food poisoning then a prosecution for Corporate Manslaughter is not out of the question.
If you face any of these problems you should seek legal advice immediately. If you are invited to an interview under caution make sure you take a Solicitor with you. What you say in the interview will be crucial and may be used against you at a later stage during Court proceedings. Fines and food safety matters unlimited in the Magistrates’ and Crown Courts.
A conviction for Corporate Manslaughter could see your company facing fines of up to £20m with the option to go even higher for very large organisations, and a possible requirement to publicise your failings via national newspapers or direct mail to customers. Either way this would not be good for business!
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