The Court of Appeal recently rejected an appeal against a sentence of three years’ imprisonment for food contamination, stating that these cases are viewed “seriously”. Our criminal defence solicitors explain.

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Food contamination and the law

Contaminated food is prosecuted under the offence of ‘contamination of or interference with goods’. This makes it an offence to contaminate or interfere with goods (or make a threat to do so), or make it appear that goods have been contaminated or interfered with.

It is also illegal to place goods which have been contaminated or interfered with (or which appear to have been) in a place where goods of that description are consumed, used, sold or otherwise supplied.

This offence carries a maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment.

A recent case at the Court of Appeal

A recent case heard before the Court of Appeal demonstrated just how seriously the courts consider the offence of food contamination.

The Court of Appeal was asked to review the sentence of a defendant who had been given three years’ imprisonment for their role in contaminating food. There was significant personal mitigation, yet the appeal was rejected and the sentence upheld.

The Court of Appeal drew reference to the fact that the protection of food supply is of great importance to society. Food is purchased off the shelf by large numbers of people – including vulnerable people – and they are entitled to expect that their food has not been tampered with in any way. Consequently, the courts must take a dim view of anyone who deliberately contaminates food.

These sentiments were echoed by the sentencing judge, who said: “It is important that those who consider contaminating food…to be sold to the unsuspecting public, realise how seriously the courts will view these offences.”

The Court of Appeal determined that the sentencing judge had acted correctly, and that the sentence of three years “was not excessive”.

Do you need expert legal advice?

Food contamination cases are relatively unusual, but they do happen. If you have been accused of contaminating or interfering with goods for sale, please contact us at Ashmans Solicitors. We are highly experienced criminal defence solicitors and apply our expertise to all criminal cases.

Call us on 0333 009 6275. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

You can also email us on enquiries@ashmanssolicitors.com or complete our Free Online Enquiry Form and we will contact you.