The number of enforcement orders taken against businesses for breaching food safety laws was up by 31 per cent last year, hitting a record of 143.
Publishing its figures for 2013, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland said it was "extremely disappointing" that once again there had been a significant year-on-year increase in the number of such actions.
Some 119 closure orders, four improvement orders and 20 prohibition orders were issued last year. In 2012, there were 109 enforcement orders issued by health inspectors.
The authority said it was unacceptable that some food businesses were continuing to breach food safety laws and said all such businesses must place robust food safety management systems top of their agenda or face “the full rigours of the law”.
In December last year alone, 11 closure orders were served on food businesses for breaches of food safety legislation under the FSAI Act 1998 and also EU control of foodstuffs regulations.
FSAI chief executive Prof Alan Reilly said the 31 per cent increase last year was "extremely disappointing" and serveed as "an unfortunate reminder that some food businesses continue to put their customers' health at risk by not complying with their legal obligations of food safety and hygiene".
“There is absolutely no excuse for negligent food practices.”
Prof Reilly said there had been a 5 per cent increase in the number of food businesses established over the last five years and he said the authority offered a number of supports on an ongoing basis.
The businesses on which closure orders were issued under the FSAI Act in December were: Aneta Dabrowska (meat and meat products) (smokinghouse area only), Ednamo, Inniskeen, Monaghan; Cronin’s Butchers (closed area: food preparation room on first floor), Strand Street, Kanturk, Cork and Lithuanica (grocery) (the store room of the premises), Unit 4, Edgeworthstown Retail Park, Edgeworthstown, Longford.
Eight closure orders were served under the EC (Official Control of Foodstuffs) Regulations, 2010 on:
Spice Heaven Indian Takeaway, Unit 9A, Porters Avenue, Coolmine Industrial Estate, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15; Indian Taste (take-away), 43 St. Mary’s Terrace, Ballybough Road, Dublin 3; China Garden (take-away), 8 Stockwell Street, Drogheda, Louth; Fusion Café, 109 North Main Street, Wexford and Conefrey’s Pub (food store/preparation room at the rear of pub), Main Street, Edgeworthstown, Longford (two orders).
Orders were also issued against China Town (take-away), Main Street, Castlebellingham, Louth and Market Kitchen (restaurant), Market Street, Swinford, Mayo.
Also in December, the HSE successfully prosecuted butcher Swilly Meats Ltd, Pearse Road, Letterkenny, Donegal for breaches of food additives legislation.
The FSAI advice line is available at 1890 336677 and further information is available at fsai.ie and on the organisation’s Facebook page.
On January 29th, the agency will also host a free seminar for anyone considering setting up a small food business this year.