Artisan Food Law Blog
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is about to embark on a review of controls over the availability of raw drinking milk which has grown and is growing in popularity. Recent sales of raw milk using a vending machine and online sales have been criticised by the FSA as ‘not in keeping with the spirit’ of the law. This is one issue likely to feature prominently in the review.
The FSA appears to be set on tightening up the law, which may well make it much harder to buy raw milk, but is the FSA’s view correct or misguided?
In January 2013 the European Commission launched a public consultation on the future of organic agriculture. Artisan Food Law raised the hope that questions around the presence of GMOs in organic food “… do not become a precursor to proposals that would permit higher levels of contamination or, worse still, the deliberate inclusion of GM ingredients in organic products.” The report on the results of the consultation was published on 19 September and sets out clearly that the people of Europe are against GMOs.
Andrew Whitley of Bread Matters reflects on a missed opportunity in this guest blog post.
The Government has decided to leave The Bread and Flour Regulations 1998 unchanged after years of deliberation and a consultation. So the fig-leaf of fortification remains, but what we need is more nutrient-dense food.
Defra reviewed the need for the 1998 Regulations and a public consultation on ‘possible regulatory options’ ended on 13 March 2013. Ministers announced their decision – to do nothing – in early August, the traditional month for burying policy embarrassments. There has been predictably little reaction, which is a shame, because an opportunity has been missed to realign a part of the food system for good.
When serving food in a community setting confusion often arises when considering the extent to which domestic and EU food law applies and so must be followed. Do I need to register as a food business operator? Do the food hygiene rules have to be met in full? If not, what are my obligations? The questions go on … and on.
It is rare for a case on food law to reach the Supreme Court. We have followed closely the case of Torfaen County Borough Council v Douglas Willis Limited which raised a point of law of public importance in relation to 'use by' dates on food and judgement was finally handed down last Wednesday, 31 July 2013.
On one side stands the New Under Ten Fishermen’s Association (NUTFA) representing small inshore fleet fishermen, on the other the United Kingdom Association of Fish Producer Organisations (AFPO), a trade association which almost exclusively represents large fish producers. David and Goliath. The main protagonists, however, were AFPO and the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) who is responsible, under Article 20(3) of Regulation (EC) 2371/2002, for allocating the UK’s fishing quota within the terms of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
Torfaen County Borough Council v Douglas Willis Limited came before The Supreme Court last Tuesday, 9 July 2013, by way of an appeal from the Divisional Court. The issues for the Court to consider were the construction of regulation 44(1)(d) of The Food Labelling Regulations 1996. In particular, whether the offence of selling food with an expired ‘use by’ date requires proof that the food was at the time of the offence highly perishable and likely to constitute an immediate danger to human health; and whether a ‘use by’ date ceases to have effect once the food has been frozen.
In 2011 Torfaen County Borough Council brought a prosecution against Douglas Willis Limited for a number of offences contrary to regulation 44(1)(d) of the Food Labelling Regulations 1996 which makes it an offence where any person “sells any food after the date shown in a ‘use by’ date relating to it”. Torfaen alleged that Willis had sold frozen pigs’ tongues after their ‘use by’ date. The case has become one of public importance and reaches the Supreme Court next week.