‘Covid-19 and the Law Relating to Food in the UK and Republic of Ireland – The Essential Guide’ by Ian Thomas


Paperback: 978-1-913715-03-8
Published: July 2020
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This book is part of our new series of essential guides for legal practitioners covering what you need to know about how various aspects of UK law have been affected by the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.


As has been well-publicised, “it is highly unlikely that people can contract Covid-19 from food or food packaging”. Nevertheless, the impact of Covid-19 on the food industry and individual food businesses has been devastating. Forced closures and limited re-openings have led to innovative ways of coping and adapting to the new way of doing things. However, it has not been plain sailing.

Food supply systems have come under significant pressure and this has led to increased criminal activity to the detriment of consumers and hard-working legitimate businesses. Diversification of activities requires careful planning and a knowledge of the potential regulatory and compliance consequences of making the change. Offering a new take away service can fulfil business and consumer needs, but there might be implications for how the food is prepared, delivered, served and described. New hazards will be introduced and they must be assessed and managed properly.

But on top of all that, as well as being food law compliant, food businesses now have to follow strict laws and guidelines in order to become Covid-secure. They have to assess the impact of Covid-19 on their activities and in some respects, this can be very significant. There is no shortage of material such as protocols and checklists available to assist food business operators but they must be adapted to meet individual needs and circumstances.

‘Covid-19 and the Law Relating to Food in the UK and Republic of Ireland – The Essential Guide’ has something for everyone involved in food. It provides examples of what can go wrong and why, and then tentatively offers some solutions by applying first principles of food law in order to protect consumers and the food business. This book is a small but valuable addition to the debate on how to cope with this new and deadly virus, the effects of which will be with us for some time to come.


Ian Thomas is a dual-qualified specialist food lawyer practising in England and Wales (barrister 1993) and in Ireland (solicitor 2006).

He advises on a wide range of non-contentious and contentious EU and domestic food law matters including; food safety and hygiene, animal welfare (including at the time of killing), food information, health and nutrition claims, food supplements, borderline products, traceability, product withdrawals and recalls, official controls and enforcement powers.

Ian has substantial experience of advising or appearing in court to represent clients facing enforcement actions, appeals and prosecutions.

Ian is an elected Fellow of the Society of Food Hygiene and Technology (SOFHT).

He is a Contributing Lecturer to the PgC/PgD/MSc Food Regulatory Affairs course (University of Ulster/University College Dublin) and a guest lecturer on the Development of Food Law and Policy for the MSc Course in Applied Culinary Nutrition at Technological University Dublin (Tallaght).

Ian is a regular speaker at food law conferences and seminars and is a member of the Food Law Group, the Food Safety Professionals Association and is an affiliate member of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health. He is also a member of the Certification Committee of Excellence Ireland Quality Association (the Q Mark).

He is a consultant with La Touche Training (Dublin) where he provides training on law, practice, procedure, evidence and courtroom skills.

Ian is the author of ‘A Practical Guide to the Law Relating to Food’.

Recommendations in the Law Directories:

“A very experienced and able operator…Very knowledgeable in food safety and hygiene.” – Chambers and Partners

“A true food safety expert, he has a grasp of pitching his in-depth, technical knowledge in the most appropriate commercial context.”, “He is extremely user-friendly and makes advocacy look easy.” – Legal 500


1. Introduction
2. What Is Covid-19?
3. The Legislative Response to Covid-19
4. The Impact of Covid-19 on Food Supply Systems
5. The Consequences of Any Interference With Food Supply Systems
6. Covid-19, General Food Law and Food Safety
7. Covid-19 and Food Hygiene
8. Food Information, Labelling and Claims
9. Withdrawals, Recalls and Notifications
10. Non-Compliance and Legal Proceedings
11. Operating a Food Business in the Era of Covid-19
12. Conclusion