Food Hygiene and Food Distribution: a new case
Food Hygiene Regulations must always be taken into consideration. Let’s have a look at this case of German Law (Berlin Administrative Court, decision of 21.10.2021 – VG 14 L 453/21 -)
Food regulations must be complied with by all persons engaged in the distribution of food, regardless of whether the activity is aimed at making a profit or not. Anyone who offers others the opportunity to deposit foodstuffs on generally accessible goods counters for free removal by third parties, which would otherwise be left to decay, is subject to strict hygiene requirements under European law.
According to the above mentioned prerequisite, the Administrative Court of Berlin rejected the application of a private person whose practice of food redistribution had been objected to by a Berlin district authority.
The applicant provides food tables for food redistribution in a place that is generally accessible from the street. On the one hand, a local organic market regularly delivers sorted food to this area. Their distribution is organised via social media groups in which about 750 people participate. Other third parties also bring in food from private or other stocks in an uncontrolled manner for anyone to take away. After discovering unrefrigerated, spoiled and uncleanly stored or unpackaged food on the goods tables, the district office prohibited further food redistribution and ordered immediate enforcement. The hygienic requirements were not met. The applicant objected to this with his urgent application, claiming that he was not a “food business operator” and therefore not responsible for the redistribution of food. Moreover, he argued, the project serves to reduce food waste.
The 14th Chamber dismissed the application. The food law provisions of European law were indeed directed at “food business operators”. However, the applicant was also covered by this term. The food regulations affected all natural or legal persons who were active in the distribution of food, regardless of whether the activity was aimed at making a profit and whether it was public or private. The decisive factor was that the applicant provided the place and the facilities and allowed third parties to bring in food. The project was also not in compliance with hygiene requirements. The applicant did not keep the display of goods clean and did not sufficiently check the foodstuffs for a best-before date or the need for refrigeration. This endangers the health of consumers. The concern to reduce food waste does not justify not complying with hygiene requirements.
The health of the consumers is the most important factor. Hygiene Requirements must be considered when handling foodstuffs of any time.