Turnover related fines in food law in the Netherlands (max. 1% of turnover) have not been imposed yet. A new draft-decree increases the scope of the possibility to impose these fines extensively as of July 2018.

During the first Food Law Class turnover related fines in the Netherlands were discussed, which the Dutch Food Safety Authority (NVWA) can impose on food business operators (with than EUR 10 million turnover). So far these can only be imposed for violations that have been committed intentionally or with gross negligence and are related to certain labelling and food safety-regulations. This is a limited scope and so far no turnover related fines have been imposed (since July 2016). This will be changed once a recent draft-decree is adopted.

The Dutch Minister of Public Health, Welfare and Sport published a proposed amendment to the reach of the turnover related fines. The scope is extensively increased to nearly all food law obligations of food businesses. Violations of obligations regarding product composition, provenance, hygiene, preparation, packaging and storage can also be faced with a turnover related fine after the amendment.

Although intentional violations of food law shall (or should) scarcely occur, the scope of ‘intentional’ and ‘gross negligence’ is interpreted broader than may be expected in practice. For example a violation, for which an earlier fine (or even a warning) has been imposed, can be considered committed intentionally if committed repeatedly thereafter. Also gross negligence can be present if there is a ‘lack of precautionary measures’ caused by the food business operator. This explanation (of the Ministry) makes the threat of turnover related fines realistic.

The amendment is supposed to take effect in July 2018 if no major objections are raised in parliament, so less than a year remains to implement any required changes.