Why is Health and Safety more important than Food Safety and Hygiene?

Ian Woodland

Ian Woodland
Director of Business Services, Assurity Consulting
11th July 2016

We highlighted that the custodial sentences and fines for health and safety offences are significantly higher than those received for food safety or hygiene offences. This gives the impression that food safety is less important than health and safety, which is strange when it is estimated by the Food Standards Agency that about 500 people die from foodborne illnesses each year. Compare this to the 144 workers who died in 2015/2016 and it clearly identifies which has the greater impact.

It could be argued that poor health and safety at work can result in long term ill health, so this is reflected in the sentencing guidelines. But poor food safety and hygiene can also lead to long term health issues, as was highlighted by a court case in Falkirk in January when a lady was awarded damages of £263,534 for health issues she has suffered since eating a meal provided by Saffron Private Catering.

As Public Health England tries to establish the source of the latest national food poisoning outbreak that has affected 109 people in the UK, isn’t it time that the sentences for food safety and hygiene offences at least equal those for health and safety?