Unregistered food business investigations more than doubled in 2020
In 2020, five Closure Orders, five Compliance Notices and three Prohibition Orders were served on unregistered/unapproved food businesses
2 March 2021 | 0
Investigations were carried out into 47* unregistered food businesses in 2020, as compared to 19 in 2019, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has revealed, having conducted the investigations with its official agencies.
These unregistered food businesses were operating illegally without the knowledge or supervision of the competent authorities. Some of these food businesses were established in domestic kitchens or private dwellings with inadequate food safety processes, procedures and facilities in place, the FSAI reports, as a result of the temporary closure of the food business in which the people were employed due to the Covid-19 restrictions.
The food businesses were producing, processing or distributing various foods such as baked goods; eggs; ready-to-eat sushi products; poultry; and both raw and cooked meats. Food law requires all food businesses to be notified to the relevant competent authority irrespective of the size or type of food business, prior to operating. This requirement ensures that food businesses will be registered and/or approved with the appropriate inspection agency to ensure food safety and protect consumer health. The food business owner is legally responsible for ensuring that the food they produce is safe to eat.
Following each investigation, the FSAI, in collaboration with the food inspectors, may take appropriate enforcement action to ensure consumer health is protected. In 2020, five Closure Orders, five Compliance Notices and three Prohibition Orders were served on unregistered/unapproved food businesses. In addition to these, two warrants were obtained to gain access to unregistered food businesses running their business from a domestic dwelling. The investigations also resulted in 17 tonnes of unfit and/or unsafe food taken off the market in Ireland.
Dr Pamela Byrne, chief executive, FSAI, described the increase as “very concerning” and urged consumers to be vigilant and only purchase food from reputable food businesses.
“There is no doubt that Covid-19 has presented many challenges for the food industry and for people working in the sector,” she said. “However, this does not change the legal requirements which are in place to protect consumer health. All food business owners, big or small, whether trading from a business premises, in the home, from a mobile unit, food truck and/or online, must be aware of food hygiene and food safety legislation. It is totally unacceptable that some food businesses are choosing to operate outside of the law,” she added.
Dr Byrne also noted that many of the unregistered food businesses were using social media platforms such as Facebook, Facebook Marketplace, Adverts.ie, Done Deal and Instagram to advertise the sale and supply of their food products, as well as WhatsApp being used in some cases to receive orders.
“The FSAI and the food inspectors continue to monitor these sites and will take appropriate action, if unregistered food businesses are discovered,” she added, asking concerned customers to contact the organisation on its online complaint form at www.fsai.ie/makeitbetter.
The FSAI has reiterated that anyone who is planning to open a food business should contact the FSAI for advice as to the correct procedures they must put in place to notify the relevant competent authority about their business, comply with food law and operate safely to ensure they can protect public health.
For further information, visit: https://www.fsai.ie/food_