Food safety ABS launches amid horsemeat and cod scandals

Specialist food law firm ABC Food Law has been given the green light by the SRA to become an ABS, a move that comes months after horsemeat was first found in beef products across Europe.

The specialist firm, which launched on Tuesday (2 April), had applied for an ABS license last August so that one of its founders, former head of environmental health at the London Borough of Enfield, Andy Bowles, could manage the business alongside his wife, former Borough of Enfield solicitor Sharon Bowles.

The couple have been managing food law training company ABC Food Safety for the past 11 years, with clients including the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

The ABS approval comes amid a high-profile horsemeat scandal in Europe. While the food-labelling crisis has no connection to why the firm was initially set up, Bowles said it has brought attention to the topic of food law and exposed frailty in the food-supply chain.

“These are the kind of cases we expect to be working on,” he said, pointing to recent examples where food is being substituted for cheaper ingredients, such as labelling crushed peanuts as almonds. “This is the sort of the thing that can happen. Substitution food doesn’t just rip off the consumer but can also be dangerous.”

The latest food fraud case is that cheap varieties of fish, such as catfish and pollock, are being sold as cod or haddock.

ABC Food Law is located at Norwich Research Park, a national centre for food science and research.

“We intend to provide legal services to local authorities, the food industry but also to clients at the research park” said Andy. “I trained as a microbiologist and whilst I’m not a white-coat scientist, I can relate to their work”.

Bowles said that, for the moment, the firm was not hiring any other solicitors.