Rodent droppings among breaches found by food-safety watchdog

Four enforcement orders served on companies in February for flouting safety regulations

Health inspectors noted rodent droppings in storage rooms and near a service area in the Cork venue. File photograph: Getty

Health inspectors noted rodent droppings in storage rooms and near a service area in the Cork venue. File photograph: Getty


Cattle carcasses improperly handled by a venison producer, rodent droppings in a restaurant store room and raw chicken prepared beside coffee machines at a food stall were among the reasons Ireland’s food safety watchdog took action against operators last month.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) served four enforcement orders on food businesses in February for breaches of safety legislation.

A prohibition order was served on the Irish Gold Venison meat manufacturing plant in Ballinwillin House, Mitchelstown, Co Cork, on the basis that it was not approved for cutting bovine species.

Health inspectors established that between November 2020 and February “five bovine carcasses over 30 months and containing the vertebral column” were supplied to the premises. The vertebral column of such animals is a specified risk material (SRM) under regulations aimed at prevention, control and eradication of bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

Inspectors said the premises had not been approved for cutting up cattle and there had been no official controls by Cork County Council to verify the correct removal and disposal of the SRM.

Inspectors also established that SRM was not removed from four of the five carcases and “beef derived from these carcasses contains SRM and has entered the human food chain”.

Unapproved establishment

A separate prohibition order was served on food manufacturer Bally Bia operating out of the Ballydehob Community Hall in Cork on the grounds that the food, including ready meals and desserts, was being processed at an unapproved establishment .

Closure orders were served on Soma on Tuckey Street, Cork, and the Twisted Dough food stall operating at The Crescent in Boyle, Co Roscommon.

Health inspectors noted rodent droppings in storage rooms and near a service area in the former, while in the latter the order was imposed after it was found that the nature and extent of food activities carried out in the business had changed “without the provision of sufficient and adequate facilities to cater for this change resulting in heightened risk of cross-contamination”.

Inspectors noted an immediate risk of cross-contamination due to raw chicken being prepared in the food stall on a folding table immediately adjacent the coffee machine, where various selections of coffee were being prepared.

They also noted a serious risk of cross-contamination “due to no provision for the collection of contaminated liquids seeping from raw meat packaging and the limited workspace available” as well as no hot and cold running water supplied in order to carry out proper cleaning and disinfection of this area.

FSAI chief executive Pamela Byrne emphasised the importance of all food businesses observing rigorous hygiene practices and ensuring their business is notified to the relevant competent authority.

“The enforcement orders served in February highlight the need for all food businesses to meet their legal requirements of high standards of food safety, hygiene and pest control to prevent food contamination and protect consumer health,” said Dr Byrne.

“All food businesses must be notified to the relevant competent authority 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. Consumers have a right to safe food and food businesses have a legal requirement to ensure that the food they are processing, serving or selling is safe to eat.”