Champneys settles out of court over misleading labelling of restaurant food

UK spa group Champneys has settled out of court with West Sussex County Council after it was accused of false cancer prevention claims in its restaurant food and failure to warn guests about allergens. 

The spa was facing 19 charges relating to food safety, publication of nutritional information and consumer protection laws after making claims that items on its menu, such as the apple crumble, could help reduce the risk of “cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes”. 

Champneys was also accused of failing to flag allergens on its menu which could put guests at risk. For example, the spa allegedly sold a vegan tofu Pad Thai dish that contained milk, and had also been accused of failing to tell guests about dishes that contained gluten, mustard, eggs and soybean. 

The council’s legal team also claimed that the spa had said on its menu that its black rice, quinoa and ginger salad was “anti-inflammatory”, and the group has even been accused of failing to inform spa guests at the Forest Mere location in Hampshire that it had a food hygiene rating of two out of five. 

The case was adjourned at the last minute on February 18 after both Champneys and the county council failed to attend court, with the spa operator no longer facing legal action as a settlement has been made out of court. 

The case is a reminder that with the wellness industry’s growing popularity it’s important not to make medical or unsubstantiated health claims. 

What happens now? 

“The case has not been adjourned, but has been listed for 28 February 2020 at Worthing Magistrates Court, where the charges will be formally withdrawn,” said a spokesperson for the council. “There will be no ‘hearing’ on that date. The court will simply be advised that the matter has been settled between the parties and there is no need for any further hearing. There will be no appearance by the defendant company.”

The spokesperson added: “The council and the company came to an agreement as to how the various charges would be dealt with and recorded and, as a result, no trial of the charges was considered to be in the public interest.

“The council considers the agreement reached was a satisfactory outcome and meant that the investigation and action taken had been beneficial.”

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