where the customer is unable to provide proof of purchase such as a till receipt, bank or credit card statement or the original packaging. However, I would still recommend using your discretion and deciding on a case by case basis. Te complaint could still be genuine and in these days of social media you run the risk of adverse reviews. Generally, the attitude I
would recommend is that “the customer is always right”. Tank them for bringing the complaint to your attention which will be thoroughly investigated. Do NOT admit blame and move on quickly to discussing a refund or other recompense. If it seems like a hoax
and they have no proof of purchase politely tell them that you do not give refunds in these circumstances, but they are welcome to report the matter to the local Council. It is unlikely to go any further but don’t forget to make sure your food safety plans and monitoring documents are all up to speed, just in case.
REFUNDS Butchers tend to get very few returns so its probably a good idea to offer a refund or replacement in most cases apart from obvious hoax attempts. It will usually be good PR and in these days of social media it will avoid bad reviews. HOWEVER - always
ensure you give refunds in a way that is not construed as admitting blame. Use the term “gesture of goodwill”.
FOOD SAFETY OFFENCES Don’t forget that supplying unfit food is an automatic criminal offence under the Food Safety Act with not much chance of a good defence unless you can prove it was the fault of others. An EHO will always take formal action and depending on the seriousness of the case this could be a criminal prosecution.
Te Food Safety Act
makes it an offence to sell food, or attempt to sell food, which is unfit for human consumption, rendered injurious to health or food, which is so contaminated as to render it unfit for human consumption. Foreign body contamination would be an offence against another provision in the Act which makes it an offence to sell to the prejudice of the buyer any food which is not of the nature, substance or quality demanded. Some of these offences would also fall foul of Trade Descriptions legislation which make it an offence not to mislead the consumer.
SERIOUS PROBLEMS If a customer complaint looks like escalating or they are claiming a resulting illness, you should treat it very seriously. It's usually a good idea
to report the matter to your EHOs before they do. Tis shows good faith and a willingness to co-operate and demonstrates that you have nothing to hide. It may also reduce the chances of a prosecution. Prosecutions are quite rare, especially in the case of isolated instances and a good track record of previous compliance. It's also a good idea
to advise your insurance provider as soon as you become aware of the possibility of a damages claim. Te good news is that most insurance companies will manage the claim, negotiate damages and remove a lot of hassle that may otherwise distract you from the business. Provided you have not committed an offence they will also pay most of the damages.
Any issues you would like covering? Just e-mail: richard@nfmſt. co.uk
• Don’t forget that being in Primary Authority gives you substantial extra protection from the risks of over zealous enforcement.
• Any EHO considering enforcement action must refer the matter to the Primary Authority i.e. Horsham District Council before proceeding.
• Te Primary Authority then has the legal right to block any proposed action provided the business is following the assured advice.
• Primary Authority is easy to join. Just let me know and I will do the rest. Tere is no long-term commitment.
• For more information on Primary Authority check out our website or give me a call.
• Te award-winning assured advice (PREMIER ADVICE) is also freely available on the website for you to peruse. Please let me know what you think!
CRAFTBUTCHER l FEBRUARY 2018 17
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