In March 2021, Regulation 852/2004 on the hygiene of foodstuffs was amended by Commission Regulation 2021/382.
The amendments introduced new provisions relating to allergens, the redistribution of food and food safety culture.
In Ireland, an environmental health officer (EHO) has the power to take enforcement action where a food business fails to comply with its food law obligations. This includes the power to issue a Closure Order to close a food business or a specified part of it, such as the kitchen.
In November 2021, an EHO issued a Closure Order on a number of grounds including the food business operator’s failure to remedy non-compliances identified on a number of official inspections. There were also issues with regard to HACCP, cleanliness, risks of contamination and pest control.
Of particular note was the inclusion in the Closure Order of the following; “There was no evidence of an appropriate food safety culture within the food business, or for commitment by management to the safe production of food … .”
This was based on the EHO having identified that the previous non-compliances had not been addressed, the business operator had not communicated the non-compliances to the staff who had not been trained and were not being properly supervised.
Food business operators must ensure that they have introduced a formal food safety culture which can be evidenced if required by the relevant competent authority.
Details of enforcement powers can be found on the Food Safety Authority of Ireland’s website at https://www.fsai.ie/enforcement_audit/enforcement.html