Recession sees some food businesses taking safety precautions off the menu
“0.2 per cent is not really a barometer for the whole food industry,” he said. But he said there is always a concern this small percentage could affect the reputation of the entire food sector.
Closure orders: Food watchdog’s concerns
Almost one quarter of closure orders issued between 2004 and 2011 involved ethnic food businesses, mainly Chinese takeaways and African food businesses.
Dr Bernard Hegarty of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland says this issue has concerned the authority for some time and it has introduced several initiatives to help improve food safety practices in ethnic food businesses.
He says Chinese takeaways often operate in small premises with limited resources. Business operators may not be familiar with European food laws and they may have difficulty accessing information in their own languages.
Since 2004 the authority has provided training for 400 Chinese food businesses and has provided information in Mandarin and Cantonese. Dr Hegarty says it continues to expand its range of training materials to cater for ethnic food business operators.
In more recent years it has provided customised training for African food businesses in areas such as hygiene, food display and food safety hazards such as cross-contamination.
Food safety: The statistics
The number of food businesses in the State, up from 48,965 in 2009
The proportion of businesses penalised for breaches in food safety
Enforcement orders served for breaches in food safety legislation up to December 19th, 2012. This compares to 84 in 2011, 73 in 2010, 54 in 2009 and 46 in 2008.
Closure orders in 2012. A closure order is issued if there is likely to be a grave and immediate danger to public health or if there is significant non-compliance with food safety legislation.
Improvement orders in 2012. An improvement order may be issued if an improvement notice is not complied with. The notice is served if the handling or preparation of food could pose a risk to public health.
Prohibition orders in 2012. A prohibition order stops the sale of a product, temporarily or permanently, because of a serious risk to public health.