The Food Safety Authority of Ireland has announced that Environmental Health Officers served twelve enforcement orders during February 2013. As in previous months, enforcement action was countrywide. Businesses whose activities were severely interrupted by the conditions found at their premises included restaurants, takeaways and a grocery store.
During the same month two food businesses were successfully prosecuted and fines and costs totalling almost €12,000.00 were imposed by District Court Judges.
As we saw last year, the number of enforcement actions is increasing quite significantly and more and more food businesses are being taken to task because of poor standards.
Following the recent horsemeat issue there have been calls for greater enforcement and more prosecutions to help restore consumer confidence in the food industry. It is likely, if not probable, that across the board the food industry will be the subject of greater and great scrutiny by the authorities. Those that are failing in their duty will be subject to the full force of the law. This will have very serious consequences for businesses and their owners in terms of adverse publicity, court fines and possible imprisonment.
Businesses need to ensure that they have put in place proper and effective systems to avoid non-compliance. Where issues are raised by the regulators businesses need to know that help is at hand to ensure that these are resolved as quickly, effectively and cheaply as possible.
Ian Thomas Associates specialises in providing advice and representation to food businesses in a variety of contentious and non-contentious matters.