How to appeal against a decision made by a local authority

Your business has the right to make an appeal against a local authority decision if you don't agree with action taken by a local authority inspector. Read about what to expect from a local authority inspection and what you can do to help resolve an issue and decide whether you have grounds for making an appeal to the FSA Independent Business Appeals Panel.

Your business and food law inspections

What inspectors do

If you run a business that makes or prepares food, it will be inspected to make sure you are following food law. The inspectors will be enforcement officers from your local authority (or district council in Northern Ireland); they will check if your business produces food that is safe to eat and that meets food standards. To do this they will look at:

  • your premises
  • the kinds of food you make or prepare
  • how you work
  • your food management system

When they think it is necessary, inspectors can take 'enforcement action', to protect the public.

When you disagree

If an inspector has given you written advice requiring you to take action to put matters right (but has not served an enforcement notice) and you disagree with, you should first discuss this with them.

If you are unable to resolve the issue with the person you have been dealing with, ask them for the name of their manager (letters from local authorities will usually give this information). You can then ask to speak with, or if you prefer, write to them to see if the issue can be resolved.

All councils also have formal mechanisms for considering complaints or appeals against the actions of their officials. If you disagree with the outcome of this, you could approach your local councillor or contact your local government or public services ombudsman.

If the matter is associated with a legal notice or formal enforcement actions there will be specific appeals arrangements, including time limits, which will accompany the relevant documentation. This will involve an appeal to the magistrates’ court (or a Sheriff in Scotland).

Food hygiene rating appeal process

If you think the food hygiene rating or inspection result given to your food business is unfair or wrong, the owner or manager of the business should initially approach the local authority food safety officer that inspected the business about why the rating or inspection result was given.

If your still think that the rating or inspection result for your business is unfair or wrong, there is a specific appeal process associated with the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme, or the Food Hygiene Information Scheme in Scotland, which involve an appeal in writing to the local authority’s lead officer for food.

Make an appeal against a port health authority

If you disagree with enforcement action taken by a port health officer relating to imported food and animal feed – for example, a consignment being seized at a seaport or airport – you can get advice on redress options via the link below.

FSA Independent Business Appeals Panel

In England, the FSA has introduced a new Independent Business Appeals Panel. This is in response to the government's small food manufacturers review (part of the Focus on Enforcement Campaign). From January 2014, the FSA’s Independent Business Appeal Panel will consider complaints or appeals against advice given by local authorities in England about food safety and food standards that you think is incorrect or goes beyond what is legally required.

Before submitting details about your issue to the panel, you must have raised a formal complaint or appeal with your local authority and these must have concluded. Also, you should check whether you have grounds for an appeal before contacting the panel. More information about how to do this can be found immediately below.

How to check if requirements are reasonable and if you have grounds for an appeal

Check online

If your business does not agree with a decision or advice given by a local authority inspector against how your business prepares, stores or handles or sells food, you can check if you have grounds for making an approach or appeal to the local authority. To help you decide if your business has the necessary controls in place and whether the local authority’s actions or requirements are reasonable, you can:

  • Check the relevant recognised industry guide to good hygiene practice produced by the food industry. Local authority enforcement officers must have regard to this guidance when considering compliance standards. These guides provide guidance on compliance, good practice and the application of HACCP principles within the legislative framework.
  • Use the 'Business and industry' section of this website to find FSA guidance and key industry publications.
  • Contact your relevant trade association for advice:

Check with your Primary Authority and trade association

If your business has a Primary Authority or Home Authority relationship with a local authority, any concerns you have about another authority’s actions can be taken up through this route.

If you are a member of a trade association, the association might also have a Primary Authority relationship and could be a useful source of independent advice on food safety or food standards requirements and the actions of a local authority.

If you are still not satisfied you can submit your issue to an independent panel (England only)

Submitting an issue to the Independent Business Appeals Panel

If you have appealed to the local authority through the existing arrangements and are still not satisfied that they have properly considered the matter, you can submit your issue to the FSA’s Independent Business Appeals Panel. The panel will look into complaints regarding advice given by the local authority about food safety and food standards which you think is incorrect or goes beyond what is legally required.

More details about the panel and the process for submitting your appeal can be found via the link below.

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