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Today the Food Safety Authority of Ireland made the startling revelation that a staggering 21 Closure Orders were slapped on food businesses in April alone. This shocking figure marks the highest count since November 2019, painting a stark picture of the magnitude of the issue among food businesses in this country – and reinforcing the importance of providing and updating Food Safety/HACCP training and certification for staff. 

The closures were for breaches of food safety legislation, pursuant to the FSAI Act, 1998 and the European Union (Official Controls in Relation to Food Legislation) Regulations, 2020. The Closure Orders were issued by Environmental Health Officers in the Health Service Executive (HSE).

A sobering 15 Closure Orders were served under the FSAI Act, 1998; and six Closure Orders was served under the European Union (Official Controls in Relation to Food Legislation) Regulations, 2020. Also, during the month of April, one prosecution was taken by the HSE.

Some of the reasons for the Enforcement Orders in April include: evidence of rodent infestation; significant amounts of rodent droppings throughout the premises; ongoing cockroach infestation in the premises; mouse droppings in multiple food areas; heavy rodent and cockroach activity; the sale of food with the claim ‘nut free’ or ‘gluten free’ in a premises that contains tree nuts and peanuts; premises not kept in a sufficiently hygienic condition; evidence of altering the ‘use by’ dates and batch numbers on food and providing false labels on food; walls of an establishment in a poor state of structural repair with extensive dampness, mould growth and flaking; food handlers not supervised or instructed and/or trained in food hygiene matters commensurate with their work activity; failure to establish, maintain and provide evidence of a food safety culture.

FSAI chief executive Dr Pamela Byrne described the high number of Closure Orders needing to be served in April as alarming and urged food businesses to keep food safety high on their list of priorities.

She said: “Twenty-one Closure Orders served in one month is the highest number since November 2019, when the same number were also issued. Amongst the reasons for the Closure Orders in April, a lack of adequate procedures to control pests was frequently cited. This resulted in evidence of widespread mice and cockroach activity, which leads to a serious risk of food being contaminated and poses a grave and immediate danger to public health.

“Food businesses must ensure that their food business is properly pest proofed, and that they take effective action if there is a pest infestation. Each month, we issue the list of Enforcement Orders as a deterrent, but it seems that last month, food safety fell off the list of priorities for quite a number of food businesses. Consumers have a right to safe food and food safety must always be a top priority for food businesses. There are no excuses. Food safety is a legal requirement for all food businesses.”

As the high number of closure orders in April shows, Environmental Health Officers are out there making calls on and closing food businesses who do not maintain their food safety to an adequate level. The best way to avoid costly closures or other sanctions is to get your staff regularly trained in Food Safety/HACCP – and to have in carried out face-to-face by an expert health and safety adviser.

SafeHands Health & Safety Solutions can deliver Food Safety/HACCP training and certification for your staff, a Food Safety/HACCP system specifically designed for your food business or Food Safety advice on-site and face-to-face at your premises. So contact us by phone on 01-7979836 or mobile on 0873823223, email info@safehands.ie or visit www.safehands.ie – and be in SafeHands…