Food safety update from HABC/Greenwoods

HABC has teamed up with Greenwoods Solicitors LLP to provide you with a quarterly update on legal developments affecting food safety.

Greenwoods is one of the most respected names in the food safety business, with a renowned team of legal experts providing expertise on everything from the new regulator’s code to the horsemeat scandal, as well as key legal issues of the day.

Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013
These came into force on 31 December 2013 and apply to England only.  Since they are consolidating Regulations, they revoke certain provisions of the Food Hygiene (England) Regulations 2006 and the General Food Regulations 2004 and provide a ‘one-stop-shop’ for businesses and enforcement authorities to locate all the safety and hygiene provisions in one statutory instrument.

From January 2014, all enforcement action should be taken under these Regulations, i.e. food safety breaches, traceability issues, notices and orders etc.

Of interest are the powers of entry for an authorised officer which can be found at Regulation 16, whilst ‘due diligence’ defence is found at Regulation 12.

Action – find the regulations by clicking here.

Should you have any queries then do get in touch with Kathryn Gilbertson at Greenwoods Solicitors LLP on 01733 887621 or by email at

Regulators’ Code
Previously known as the Compliance Code and prior to that the Enforcement Concordat, this was given statutory status on 6 April 2014.

Its aim is to promote good regulatory principles which reduce unnecessary burdens on business and increase the benefits that regulation can bring through transparency and accountability.  The Code promotes efficient and effective working practices by requiring regulators to have regard to the Codes’ principles, namely:

  1. Regulators should carry out their activities in a way that supports those they regulate to comply  and grow.
  2. Regulators should provide simple and straightforward ways to communicate with those they regulate and hear their views.
  3. Regulators should base their regulatory activities on risk.
  4. Regulators should share information about compliance and risk.
  5. Regulators should ensure clear information, guidance and advice is available to help those they regulate meet their responsibility to comply.
  6. Regulators should ensure that their approach to their regulatory activities is transparent.

Regulators must publish ‘service standards’ so that businesses know what they can expect from their enforcement officers. These will be published by the following regulators:

Action – you can find the code by clicking here.

Should you have any queries about how the code will apply to your business then please contact Charlotte Murray at Greenwoods Solicitors LLP on 01733 887620 or by email at

Magistrates’ Court Sentencing Guidelines
There is a statutory obligation on every court to have regard to these guidelines when considering imposing a penalty in a relevant case, and to give reasons when imposing a sentence outside the range identified.

These guidelines were revised in March 2014.  Whilst no specific tariffs are specified for food safety cases, of interest are offences such as:

  • ‘Alcohol sale to a minor’ where sentences should fall in a range of a fine and/or community service together with consideration of additional orders including forfeiture or suspension of personal liquor licence – these sentences would apply when liquor is sold to a child under 18 years by a shop assistant; or
  • In the case of counterfeit sauces/relish, the penalties for the ‘unauthorised use of Trademarks’ include a fine and consideration forfeiture and destruction of the goods.

Action – should you have a case heading for the courts or have a query about possible sanctions for breach then do get in touch with Robert Starr at Greenwoods Solicitors LLP on 01733 887617 or by email at

Extension of Primary Authorities
On 6 April, Primary Authority relationships were extended to allow industry groups and trade bodies to set up primary authority relationships on behalf of their members.  A number of trade bodies, such as the British Frozen Food Federation, intend to apply to their local council to set up a primary authority relationship.  Such a relationship could cover trading standards, environmental health and fire safety issues.

Further, the List of Primary Authority Categories was revised to include categories as a result of changes made by the devoted administrations.  For example companies trading in Wales can seek advice from councils on single use carrier bag charges via the Environmental Protection category.

This minor amendment to the category description allows multi-site businesses to adopt a standard approach to compliance.

The category list is published by the Better Regulation Delivery Office (BRDO).  It supports the Primary Authority Statutory Guidance. The list defines the categories under which a local authority can be nominated as a primary authority.

Action – To access this list, simply click here.

For further information about how a primary authority relationship could help your business, then please contact Charlotte Murray at Greenwoods Solicitors LLP on 01733 887620 or by email at

Professor Elliott’s Report
The interim report into the Integrity and Assurance of Food Supply Networks was published in December 2013.  The final report is expected in late spring, with dates in May and June being mooted.

Prof. Elliott was asked by the Secretaries of State for Health and the Defra to conduct a review into the integrity and assurance of food supply networks; to consider issues which impact upon consumer confidence in the authenticity of food products, including systemic failures in networks and systems with implications for food safety and public health; and to make recommendations.  This was not a review into the incidents relating to finding horse meat in beef products.

In the interim report Prof. Elliott states that ‘a significant change in culture is needed to deal with the threats of fraudulent activity that exist along complex supply chains.  My review to date has identified a worrying lack of knowledge regarding the extent to which we are dealing with criminals infiltrating the food industry.  I believe criminal networks have begun to see the potential for huge profits and low risks in this area.  The food industry and thus consumers are currently vulnerable.  We need a culture within businesses involved in supplying food that focuses on depriving those who seek to deceive consumers.  A food supply system which is much more difficult for criminals to operate is urgently required’.

Action – Read the report by clicking here.

Should you have any queries on how the recommendations may affect your business then do get in touch with Kathryn Gilbertson at Greenwoods Solicitors LLP on 01733 887 621 or by email at

Look out for our next bulletin when we shall consider the impact of the Groceries Adjudicator.

HABC statement on Bright International Ltd – Putting the Record Straight

‘In response to the article in FE Week on 8 May 2014, ‘Who will certificate Bright?’, we believe there are a number of inaccuracies in the statement from Bright International Ltd (‘Bright’) Chief Executive Ms Krissy Charles-Jones that HABC cannot allow to go unchallenged.

Ms Charles-Jones states that Bright was ‘never approved or used by Highfields and I didn’t ever sign any application or agreement to do so’.

In relation to the first part of this statement; this is untrue. Bright submitted an application form for Approved Centre status to HABC on 4 September 2013 and signed a declaration (constituting a formal legal contract) on 4 September 2013. HABC subsequently communicated to Bright that its HABC Centre Approval application had been successful.

Notwithstanding the fact HABC has asked Bright to remove our logo and references to our organisation from its website on several occasions, as of 13 May 2014, the Bright website incorrectly states that they are ‘regulated‘ by Highfield. This is clearly at odds with the statement by Ms Krissy Charles-Jones.

The second part of the statement is also misleading. Although the declaration was signed by Bright’s Head of Training and Quality rather than Ms Charles-Jones personally, we would expect Ms Charles-Jones, as Chief Executive of Bright and the person ultimately in charge, to be accountable for any agreement signed by her staff in good faith with HABC.Further, it is clear from our correspondence with Ms Charles-Jones that she was aware that the declaration had been signed on behalf of Bright.

The statement from Bright further says, ‘they approached us to work with us but we decided not to do so’. Again, this is not the case. One of our Business Development Managers was approached by Bright’s then Head of Training and Quality in July 2013.

It was this approach (by Bright) that led to the application for Approved Centre status being made and the declaration being signed on 4 September 2013.

Finally, Bright’s statement says, ‘We have never done any learning or registrations through them’.

This part of the statement is accurate. HABC suspended Bright in December 2013 after we were notified by NCFE regarding the problems they had discovered. This was before any candidates were registered and before courses were delivered, and most importantly, before any learners could potentially be affected.

Since Bright’s suspension, HABC has received written communications and telephone calls from Ms Charles-Jones and other members of Bright, expressing a clear interest in working with HABC in the future.

However, HABC has now taken the decision to permanently terminate the Approved Centre status of Bright. We will not therefore work in any capacity with Bright or Ms Charles-Jones in the future.

We are disappointed by the actions of Bright and have contacted them directly after seeing the article in FE Week to express our concerns. Having received no satisfactory response, we feel we have no option but to release our own statement to the press and will be considering what further action may be taken.’

Issued on behalf of Terry Bloor, Quality Assurance Manager, 13/05/2014

Meeting the security challenge with the HABC National Conference

security challengeHighfield Awarding Body for Compliance (‘HABC’) will be putting the focus on security at its conference later this year with a line up including Professional Security Magazine, New Scotland Yard and Bosch UK Holdings Ltd.

Held at Old Trafford Stadium, Manchester on 13 November 2014, the HABC National Conference will feature a security seminar – sponsored by MITIE, Marks & Spencer and – with insights and updates on training, legislation and compliance from some of the top names in the industry, including:

•    Mark Rowe, Executive Editor, Professional Security Magazine;
•    DCI Mick Neville, New Scotland Yard;
•    Tony Shepherd, Protection Security Officer, Bosch Holdings UK Ltd;
•    Bob Betts, MD, Elite Academy of Security Training/Elite Bodyguard Ltd;
•    Andy Walker, HABC Security Consultant; and
•    James Rockley, HABC Business Development Director.

Jason Sprenger, HABC Chief Executive, said, ‘The security industry faces huge challenges over the next 18 months and is constantly under scrutiny.  Our line-up of speakers will provide delegates with a detailed update on industry developments covering everything from legal changes to practical guidance including information on working with the police, overseas delivery, CCTV and training innovation’.

The conference is expected to attract an anticipated 600 delegates including blue-chip corporate clients and brand names, leading industry experts and educators and trainers.

The security seminar is one of seven that make up the entire conference covering a number of sectors including apprenticeships, fire safety/health and safety, first aid, food safety, licensing and  pool lifeguarding.

Cost per attendee is £135+VAT for HABC Approved Centres and £195+VAT for non-Centres, with discounts available for early and multiple bookings.

For more information, click here, call 0845 226 0350 or email


HABC first aid qualification receives SIA approval

SIA approvalSecurity professionals applying for a close protection licence can now use HABC’s Level 3 Award in First Aid Response qualification as part of the application process after it received official approval from the Security Industry Authority (‘SIA’).

All applicants for the licence must produce evidence that they have gained a first aid award before they can be authorised to work as a close protection professional in the UK.

The Level 3 Award in First Aid Response from Highfield Awarding Body for Compliance (‘HABC’) covers a number of key areas vital to any close protection professional, including assessing an incident, recognising the signs and symptoms of injury and illness, assisting a casualty suffering from major illness, correct use of an AED and awareness of medical provision and intelligence.

Andy Hibbitt, HABC Business Development Manager, said, ‘Close protection is a demanding job that requires a number of skills, not least of all first aid.  Our Level 3 Award in First Aid Response is recognised by the SIA as providing aspiring close protection professionals with those skills so that they can achieve their licence and fulfil their role to the highest professional standard’.

He added, ‘The course takes approximately 4 days to complete, making it ideal for fitting around busy work schedules.  It’s also valid for 3 years upon completion, giving close protection professionals peace of mind so they can get on with their jobs’.

This qualification is priced at just £25+VAT per learner, and is assessed via practical demonstration and portfolio of evidence.

For further information, click here.

Law, legislation and licensing at the HABC National Conference

Highfield Awarding Body for Compliance (HABC) will be putting the latest and proposed legislative changes to the industry under the spotlight at its conference later this year, with a line-up including the Institute of Licensing and the Scottish Grocers Federation.

Held at Old Trafford Stadium, Manchester, on 13 November 2014, the HABC National Conference will feature a seminar on licensing issues throughout the day – sponsored by the Alliance of Quality Licensing Trainers (AQLT) and Marks & Spencer – with insights and updates on training, legislation and compliance from leading experts including:

proposed legislative changesJohn Drummond, Chief Executive, Scottish Grocers Federation;



Jon CollinsJon Collins, Chairman, Institute of Licensing Ltd;



Peter CoulsonPeter Coulson, Editor of the Licensing Review, co-founder of the M&C Report; and



Mike WroeMike Wroe, Director, HABC.



Jason Sprenger, HABC Chief Executive, said, ‘The licensing sector faces a number of challenges right across the four nations, both now and in the future, from the legal to the operational.  Our speakers will be addressing those issues and providing guidance for operators and educators on how to meet those challenges’.

The conference is expected to attract an anticipated 600 delegates including blue-chip corporate clients and brand names, leading industry experts and educators and trainers.

The licensing seminar is one of seven that make up the entire conference covering a number of sectors including apprenticeships, fire safety/health and safety, first aid, food safety, pool lifeguarding and security.


AQLT and HABC team up to improve access to APLH courses

National retailers and members of the public seeking APLH courses will be able to find them more easily thanks to this new partnership.

The Alliance of Quality of Licensing Trainers (AQLT)* is now offering Highfield Awarding Body for Compliance (HABC) qualifications at a number of their training centres across England, Scotland and Wales, with key examination venues including Bournemouth, Bristol, Cardiff, Cheltenham, Liverpool, London and Oxford.

The coverage of venues will allow national licensed retailers and the general public to sit HABC examinations at AQLT’s centres on a number of monthly dates, offering them greater flexibility and choice.  The dates will be published on HABC’s Coursefinder Plus.

It is the second time the two organisations have teamed up, having previously partnered in 2012 to offer the first national training programme in Underage Sales Prevention to both the on- and off-licence sectors in 40 locations across England and Wales.

Martin Read, Acting Chair of AQLT, said, ‘We are extremely pleased to now be able to offer HABC personal licence holder qualifications at our training centres across the UK. The initial national series of Preventing Underage Sales courses we delivered using HABC qualifications was most successful and we now look forward to providing this essential APLH qualification to many HABC corporate and public clients’.


Christian Sprenger, HABC MD, said, ‘We have worked successfully with AQLT before, and we know that they have the same commitment to high standards, customer service and meeting expectations as we do. AQLT shares our values, and through this partnership we will be able to deliver high-quality qualifications across England, Scotland and Wales.’

AQLT now delivers HABC’s full suite of licensing qualifications, including the APLH, SCPLH and the SCPLHR, as well as a number of other related compliance qualifications available upon request including food safety, health and safety and underage sales,available to members of the public or delivered to major national retailers.

To find out more, and for contact details of Centres that will be offering HABC qualifications in each region, go to Coursefinder Plus.

* AQLT is a group of five of the UK’s largest and award-winning training companies for the delivery of licensing training in England, Scotland and Wales (abv Training, InnConfidence, Inn Dispensable Training, InnPacked and Poppleston Allen).

Highfield’s rally star sets new racing challenge

BC RallyHighfield’s very own rally star Ben Cressey has got the 2014 BTRDA Gravel Championship off to a racing start after taking second place overall in the B13 class after just two races.

And then he’ll be setting himself a new kind of racing challenge this April as he runs in the London Marathon for charity. 

Ben, who drives a Subaru Impreza (pictured) with co-driver Mark Swallow, has been mixing it with some of the big names of rally driving, but two impressive displays have seen him pick up vital points. 

He said, ‘If someone said to me before the start of the season we would be second in B13 class I would have laughed, but it’s become reality and puts us in a different position for the remainder of the season.   The amount of money invested in some of the cars surrounding us is phenomenal and for us to be up there mixing it with them in our first year of 4wd is very exciting!’

Ben now has a break in the championship, but isn’t resting on his laurels, as he’ll be running in the London Marathon on 13 April to raise money for VICTA, a charity which supports blind and visually impaired children and young people. 

Said Ben, ‘The money raised will go towards helping VICTA in its work to provide equipment, services and events that help blind and visually impaired children and young people develop socially, emotionally and educationally.  They also provide parents with a vital network of support and information, so it’s a really worthwhile cause’. 

He added, ‘It’s great to be in second place in class in the BRTDA Gravel Championship, but I think second in the marathon might be a little optimistic!’ 

To contribute to the charity, go to Virgin Money Giving and search for ‘VICTA’.

The next rally for Ben and Mark will be the SJR sponsored Plains Rally this May in Welshpool.

Staff set the pace for blind charity

(l-r front): Ben Cressey, Diana Hill, Chris Sprenger

(l-r front): Ben Cressey, Diana Hill, Chris Sprenger

Staff from Highfield put themselves through the paces as they completed a 10k run around Doncaster Lakeside on Sunday 9 March 2014 to raise money for VICTA, which supports blind and partially sighted people under the age of 29.

And for three of the runners it was a dry run for an even greater challenge, as they will be competing in the London Marathon on 13 April to raise even more money for the charity.

Chris Sprenger, Highfield Group Managing Director, said, ‘It was a great effort by all the team and I am really pleased that we were able to raise more money on the day, which goes towards the £2000 we have already raised so far.  The money will go towards helping VICTA in its work to provide equipment, services and events that help blind and visually impaired children and young people develop socially, emotionally and educationally, as well as offering their parents a vital network of support and information.Myself, Ben Cressey (Director of Apprenticeships and Work-Based Learning) and Diana Hill (Corporate Business Development Manager) will be running the London Marathon in April, and with £2000 already raised, we’re on track to reach our target of £3750’.

The event, which saw 43 members of staff running on the day, also included a barbeque afterwards for friends and family to raise further funds for the charity. 

To contribute t0 the charity, go to Virgin Money Giving and search for VICTA.


HABC’s Mary takes centre stage

Mary playing the trombone on stage with Lesley Garrett and the Bel Canto Choir.

HABC’s Mary Golder got the opportunity of a lifetime recently as she appeared on stage with international soprano singer Lesley Garrett.

The quality assurance auditor accompanied the acclaimed singing star as part of the celebrations to mark 50 years of the Dore Male Voice Choir at Sheffield City Hall on 8 March 2014 in front of a packed house.

Mary accompanied Lesley Garret – also known as the ‘Doncaster Diva’ due to her South Yorkshire roots – on trombone, which she plays as part of the Unite the Union (City of Sheffield) Brass Band. 

 ‘Appearing on stage with one of the world’s most famous soprano singers was amazing,’ said Mary, ‘and a bit different to my day to day role of providing support and guidance on quality assurance and best practice to our centres.  Lesley Garrett was really nice and friendly, and an incredibly down to earth person.  It was a fantastic experience and a great way to help celebrate the Dore Mail Voice Choir’s 50th birthday’. 

Mary will also be playing with Leeds-based indie band Chumbawamba later this year as part of a touring show, Coal, as well as getting the opportunity to perform alongside Jarvis Cocker – someone the Unite the Union (City of Sheffield) Brass Band first encountered in 2013.

Mary said, ‘The band recorded a live score for Jarvis Cocker’s BBC4 documentary The Big Melt – which tells the story of Sheffield, the steel industry and the people who worked in it – on the opening night of Sheffield Doc/Fest in June 2013 at the Crucible Theatre, but there weren’t any trombones required that evening so we go the night off.  This time however I am hoping to get my chance to perform alongside Jarvis!’

The Sheffield City Hall performance with Lesley Garrett will be broadcast on Songs of Praise on BBC1 this May.


MP Rosie Winterton visits ‘Large Business of the Year’

Rosie Winterton

Rosie Winterton MP (l) with Jason Sprenger (Highfield Chief Executive – centre) and Christian Sprenger (right).

It was an education for Doncaster Central MP Rosie Winterton as she visited Doncaster’s Large Business of the Year, the Highfield Group.

Ms Winterton dropped in to the offices of Highfield to offer some New Year cheer and congratulate staff and directors on winning the ‘Large Business of the Year’ category in the Doncaster Chamber Business Awards in December 2013.

SpeakingwithJasonThe Doncaster Central MP was given a hands-on experience as she was shown how vocational qualifications such as NVQs and apprenticeships are developed, and how further education is helping to meet the needs of young people and workers in Doncaster and the UK.

Ms Rosie Winterton said, ‘I would like to congratulate Highfield on their award and am delighted to have had the opportunity to visit them and see for myself the work that they do.  Providing opportunities for people to obtain vocational qualifications and apprenticeships is important in helping people to gain employment and develop their careers, which in turn will help to grow our economy.  I am pleased that we have such a successful company in this field here in Doncaster’.

Jason Sprenger, Highfield’s Chief Executive, said, ‘It was a huge honour to welcome Ms Winterton to our office and have our recent achievements, including the Chamber award, acknowledged.  Highfield is a global leader in our specialised fields and we are delighted to have that recognised.  2013 was an incredible year for us – with nearly 80 new staff recruited and some incredible achievements in terms of the work we have done – including significant development within our apprenticeship offering.  We are confident that 2014 is going to be even more successful’.

WalkaroundThe visit from Rosie Winterton took place at HABC’s head office, Highfield House, Heaven’s Walk, Doncaster, on 10 January 2014.