Duty of Care in Food & Beverage


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With Tony Johnston of Eastern Commercial Lawyers

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Duty of Care in Food & Beverage

  1. 1. Managing Duty of Care in Food and Beverage DANGER ALERT
  2. 2. Topics for discussion <ul><li>The Legal Tree. </li></ul><ul><li>Overview of the legislative framework relating to Food. </li></ul><ul><li>OH&S requirements. </li></ul><ul><li>Properly understanding ‘Duty of Care’. </li></ul><ul><li>Duty of Care in the food and beverage environment. </li></ul><ul><li>Issues for consideration in the food and beverage environment. </li></ul><ul><li>Managing food and beverage risk. </li></ul>
  3. 3. The Legal Tree State Legislation Commonwealth Legislation Commonwealth Regulations State Regulations Common Law
  4. 4. Legislative framework for Food Trade Practice/Fair Trading Commonwealth, States/Territories & New Zealand FSANZ FOOD STANDARDS CODE Food/Health Laws States/Territories New Zealand Import Controls Commonwealth & New Zealand Environmental Legislation Agricultural Legislation
  5. 5. Australian Food Regulatory System <ul><li>Federal system comprises: </li></ul><ul><li>Commonwealth Government </li></ul><ul><li>(Food Policy, Food standards) </li></ul><ul><li>6 States and 2 Territories </li></ul><ul><li>(Standards implementation & enforcement) </li></ul><ul><li>~690 Local Government Authorities </li></ul><ul><li>(Enforcement of standards, advice to food businesses) </li></ul>
  6. 6. The Australia and New Zealand Food Standards Code <ul><li>National food safety standards form Chapter 3 of the Code: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Standard 3.1.1  - Interpretation and Application </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Standard 3.2.1 - Food Safety Programs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Standard 3.2.2   - Food Safety Practices and General Requirements </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Standard 3.2.3  - Food Premises and Equipment </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Food Act 2003 (NSW) <ul><li>21     Compliance with Food Standards Code </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(1) A person must comply with any requirement imposed on the person by a provision of the Food Standards Code in relation to the conduct of a food business or to food intended for sale or food for sale. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(2) A person must not sell any food that does not comply with a requirement of the Food Standards Code that relates to the food. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(3)  A person must not sell or advertise for sale any food that is packaged or labelled in a manner that contravenes a provision of the Food Standards Code. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(4)  A person must not sell or advertise for sale any food in a manner that contravenes a provision of the Food Standards Code. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Maximum penalty: 500 penalty units in the case of an individual and 2,500 penalty units in the case of a corporation. </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Food Act 2003 (NSW) <ul><li>Penalty Notices – 1748 currently on register </li></ul><ul><li>Offences where occupier found guilty by court – 71 currently on the register. Not clear if from Court Attendance Notice or challenge of Infringement Notices. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Occupational Health & Safety Requirements <ul><li>OH&S Act 2000 (NSW) - Section 8 </li></ul><ul><li>Duties of employers </li></ul><ul><li>An employer must ensure the health, safety and welfare at work of all the employees of the employer. </li></ul><ul><li>An employer must ensure that people (other than employees of the employer) are not exposed to risks to their health or safety arising from the conduct of the employer’s undertaking while they are at the employer’s place of work. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Occupational Health & Safety Requirements <ul><li>The duty extends to: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>ensuring that systems of work and the working environment of the employees are safe and without risks to health, </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>providing such information, instruction, training and supervision as may be necessary to ensure the employees’ health and safety at work </li></ul></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Occupational Health & Safety <ul><li>Defences: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Not ‘reasonably’ practicable to comply with provisions of the Act </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Commission of offences was due to causes over which the person had no control </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. What does this statutory duty mean in practice? <ul><li>New South Wales OH&S Act </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Duty is very high - almost an absolute duty </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Very few contested decisions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Belief that ‘accident = offence’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reverse onus of proof </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. What is ‘Duty of Care’?
  14. 14. ‘ Duty of Care’ is an element of Negligence <ul><li>Plaintiff must establish on the balance of probabilities that : </li></ul><ul><li>the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care ; </li></ul><ul><li>the defendant fell below the required standard of care owed ( breach of duty ); and </li></ul><ul><li>the plaintiff suffered damage that was caused by the defendant’s breach of duty . </li></ul>
  15. 15. The modern version of negligence The modern version of negligence was established in 1932 in the famous decision of Lord Atkin in Donoghue v Stevenson [1932] AC 562
  16. 16. Donoghue v Stevenson [1932] A manufacturer of products which he sells in such a form as to show that he intends them to reach the ultimate consumer in the form in which they left him with no reasonable possibility of intermediate examination, and with the knowledge that the absence of reasonable care in the preparation or putting up of the products will result in an injury to the consumer’s life or property, owes a duty to the consumer to take that reasonable care. Snail
  17. 17. Negligence and harm <ul><li>Careless acts do not always amount to negligence </li></ul><ul><li>In negligence, a person is only liable for harm that is the foreseeable consequence of their actions, that is, failure to exercise reasonable care and skill. </li></ul>
  18. 18. Negligence defined <ul><li>Negligence is: </li></ul><ul><li>the omission to do something that a reasonable person would do </li></ul><ul><li>or </li></ul><ul><li>doing something which a prudent and reasonable person would not do </li></ul>
  19. 19. Issues for consideration in the Food and Beverage environment <ul><li>Food related illness – patrons and employees </li></ul><ul><li>Responsible Service of Alcohol – patrons </li></ul><ul><li>Personal injury – patrons and employees </li></ul><ul><li>Failure to label or advise of ingredients properly (anaphylactic reaction) – patrons and employees </li></ul><ul><li>Stress and bullying - employees </li></ul><ul><li>Discrimination and harassment - patrons and employees </li></ul>
  20. 20. Some headlines <ul><li>A TOXIC asparagus sauce served at an award-winning Sydney restaurant has been found to have killed a man after a romantic dinner with his wife. Daily Telegraph - July 1 2008 </li></ul><ul><li>“ Worst food poisoning outbreak in NSW” leads to $42,000 fine Aus Food News – January 6 2009 </li></ul>
  21. 21. Some headlines <ul><li>Contractor's &quot;conscious&quot; risk-taking did not reduce employer's duty Industrial Relations Commission SA – 21 July 2010 </li></ul><ul><li>Employer overlooked risk posed by 6cm gap Industrial Relations Commission SA – 24 June 2010 </li></ul>
  22. 22. Key Principles – Managing Food and Beverage Risk <ul><li>Identify, analyse and assess risk. </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid or remove unacceptable risk. </li></ul><ul><li>Monitor levels of risk and adverse consequences of retained residual risk. </li></ul><ul><li>Investigate and analyse the causes of serious accidents and high potential incidents to prevent recurrence. </li></ul>
  23. 23. Key Principles – Managing Food and Beverage Risk <ul><li>Review effectiveness of risk control measures and take corrective and prescriptive action. </li></ul><ul><li>Mitigate the potential adverse effects from residual risk. </li></ul><ul><li>Implement written policies: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>RSA Policy </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Food Safety Programs – See NSW Food Authority </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Safe Work Method Statements </li></ul></ul></ul>
  24. 24. Content of Food Safety Programs <ul><li>A Food Safety Program must be: </li></ul><ul><li>a written document </li></ul><ul><li>maintained on site </li></ul><ul><li>reviewed annually to ensure its adequacy, and </li></ul><ul><li>audits of the program are to be completed by a Food Safety Auditor </li></ul>
  25. 25. Recent Legal Changes <ul><li>Introduction of food safety supervisors: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Required to undertake formal training and refresher training every 5 years; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Legislation does not currently outline the actual functions of food safety supervisors. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Training currently being trialed by Restaurant & Catering NSW. </li></ul></ul>
  26. 26. <ul><li>Level 2, 491-493 Elizabeth Street </li></ul><ul><li>SURRY HILLS NSW 2010 </li></ul><ul><li>T: (02) 9698 3873 </li></ul><ul><li>F: (02) 9699 3889 </li></ul><ul><li>E: [email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>W: www.eclawyers.com.au </li></ul>