When you enter a restaurant or a store, it is the signage that explains the foods being offered and the ingredients they contain. In California, the state takes legal measures to ensure the protection and safety of consumers. Therefore, if an owner or operator who sells food intentionally mislabels the food, the owner or operator faces criminal prosecution. According to Health and Safety Code 114087 HS, it is illegal to mislabel food and sell that food to consumers.
Given that human error can occur, it is important that the code specifies the elements that must be proven. For an owner or operator to be found guilty under the Health and Safety Code, they must have a business whose service it is to provide food for consumers; however, in a way that misleads said consumer, the owner or operator must intentionally mislabel the food. Therefore, if an employee in a food establishment accidentally mislabels food, without any intention to do so, they might not be found guilty under code 114087. However, other lawsuits concerning consumer safety may apply. Moreover, it is not just the direct labeling that matters, as the presentation of food is also included in this code.
If investigators spot mislabeled food and the owner/operator is found guilty, the convicted individual can face a misdemeanor offense. The punishments for mislabeling food can include serving probation and spending six months in jail. Those working in food establishments must be aware that their products can cause severe harm to consumers if consumers buy mislabeled food. If the mislabeled food results in harm, other lawsuits may be brought forward in addition to this charge. If someone is accused of mislabeling food, they must consult with an experienced attorney.