Condemnation of unfit food. Is a court order required?

We are currently acting for the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS) and a red meat slaughterhouse in an appeal to the Court of Appeal in a case concerning the application of section 9 of the Food Safety Act 1990.

Section 9 sets out that where an authorised officer forms the opinion that food is unfit for human consumption he should obtain an order from the Magistrates’ Court for it to be condemned. Such a procedure allows the food business operator the right to give evidence as to the fitness of the food at a court hearing and in effect provides him with a right to challenge the authorised officer’s decision.

In this case a bull that had topped the auction and been found healthy at ante-mortem inspection was declared unfit for human consumption by the Official Veterinarian (OV) at post-mortem inspection. The OV required the food business operator to dispose of the carcase an animal by-products. He did not seek a condemnation order from the Magistrates’ Court and as a result avoided the protections afforded to the food business operator by Section 9 of the Food Safety Act 1990.

Although initially unsuccessful at the judicial review hearing, AIMS has since appealed that decision. At a recent hearing in the Court of Appeal permission to appeal was granted by judge Lady Justice Gloster and the matter is due to come before three Lord Justices of Appeal in May 2017.

This case is still ongoing but you can read more about it on the Meat Trades Journal’s Website.

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