Who: Champneys and West Sussex County Council
Where: United Kingdom
When: February 2020
Law stated as at: February 2020
West Sussex County Council Trading Standards charged Champneys with 19 separate offences relating to breaches of food regulation and food safety legislation. Specifically, Trading Standards alleged that Champneys had made a number of unlawful claims in their restaurants, including the use of unauthorised health and nutrition claims such as that apple crumble could reduce the risk of serious medical conditions such as cancer and diabetes, and misuse of “Parmesan” which is a protected designation of origin. In addition, Trading Standards alleged that Champneys had failed to tell guests about allergens including soy and gluten in their restaurant food.
The case was due to be heard in February 2020 but just before trial, Champneys agreed to accept a criminal caution in relation to four of the 19 charges, with no evidence being offered by Trading Standards in relation to the remaining 15 charges meaning that the case did not continue. A criminal caution is an admission of guilt by Champneys.
Why this matters:
There is often a perception that claims made in restaurant and on point-of-sale materials in retailers are “low risk because they fall outside of the jurisdiction of the Advertising Standards Authority and other enforcement bodies are less active. This is a timely reminder that Trading Standards, can and do take action in these cases and the sanctions can be a criminal conviction.