Leila Ghahhary and Henry Blackshaw involved in land mark Local Authority Health Claim Case

Leila Ghahhary prosecuting on behalf of Trafford Council and Henry Blackshaw defending a company and its director for making unauthorised health claims when selling Royal Jelly, in a case that is thought to be the first prosecution of its kind in the country.

This case involved offering for sale via the company’s website Royal Jelly, a food product, to which were attached health claims that were prohibited in law.

The company Well-Beeing UK Limited and its sole director Mr Paul Southern pleaded guilty to 9 offences under the Nutrition and Health Claim Regulations in relation to the sale of Royal Jelly.

Strict rules apply to health claims made in relation to food products. The prohibitions can be found in Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006, which was given effect in the UK through the Nutrition and Health Claims (England) Regulations 2007. The Regulations prohibit persons from making unapproved health claims in relation to a food product.

On 14 December 2012, a Health Claims Register came into force, with the aim of publicising what health claims could and could not be made in relation to any food product. A health claim made in the context of a commercial communication, such as offering a product for sale on a website, will only be approved for the purposes of the Regulations if it appears on the Claims Register and has been validated. The Claims Register is held and published by the European Food Safety Authority. Any health claim made in relation to a product or its ingredients which does not appear on the register and in the format provided on the register constitutes an offence.  To date there are no authorised or permissible health claims relating to Royal Jelly. It is against that legislative background that the offending occurred.

The unauthorised health claims made by the Defendants included claims that Royal Jelly assisted in the treatment of infertility, tumors, alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis. The product was aimed at people who can be regarded as vulnerable and would have cost the customer around £28 per week to use.

On the 5 October 2017 at Manchester Crown Court Mr Southern was sentenced to 8 months custody suspended for 12 months and, was ordered to complete 250 hours unpaid work. Well-Beeing UK Limited was ordered to pay a fine. Both defendants were ordered to make a contribution towards the prosecution costs.

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