The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has said that 59 enforcement orders were served on food businesses in 2021.

The agency confirmed the figure today (Tuesday, January 11), and noted that it was an increase of 40% on the 42 enforcement orders issued in 2020.

This increase is down to the reopening of many food businesses last year following long periods of closure in 2020.

These 59 orders comprised 47 closure orders, two improvement orders and 10 prohibition orders, issued between January 1, 2021 and December 31, 2021.

These orders arose following interaction with the businesses in question by environmental health officials in the Health Service Executive (HSE); veterinary inspectors in the local authorities; and officers of the FSAI itself.

Several recurring food safety issues were identified in food businesses, the FSAI said, with the most frequent being: evidence of pest activity and infestation; poor knowledge of basic food safety and hygiene rules; inadequate facilities for staff hygiene and cleaning; and inadequate temperature control on the storage and preparations of food.

Commenting on these end-of-year statistics, Dr. Pamela Byrne, chief executive of the FSAI, said: “Unfortunately, many of the reasons cited for enforcement orders concern the basic requirement for food safety and hygiene and should not be happening in any food business.

“There is absolutely no excuse for negligent food practices at any time. Enforcement orders are served on food businesses only when a serious risk to consumer health has been established or where there are a number of ongoing serious breaches of food legislation.

“All food businesses must recognise that they are legally bound to ensure that the food they produce is safe to eat and that they implement and support a strong food safety culture within the business ,” Dr. Byrne added.

She stressed: “Consumers have a right to safe food. Non-compliance by food businesses will not be tolerated and all breaches of food safety legislation will be dealt with to the full extent of the law.”