Sharp drop in food safety breaches reflects Covid-closures, FSAI says

Recurring issues include unregistered firms, filthy conditions and rodent infestations

There was a 67 per cent decrease in the number of enforcement orders served on businesses for breaches of food safety legislation in 2020.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) said recurring issues that led to orders last year included unregistered and unsupervised food businesses, filthy conditions, evidence of rodent infestations and droppings, the presence of cockroaches, failure to maintain temperatures of foodstuffs,unsuitable food storage facilities and improper or lack of water facilities.

There were 42 enforcement orders served last year in comparison to 125 in 2019. The FSAI said the drop in numbers largely reflects the impact of Covid-19, “where large numbers of food service businesses were temporarily closed for long periods throughout the year, and is not necessarily due to improved food safety practices”.

The kitchen area of a bar in Roscommon was the only premises served with a closure order in December.


Hayloft Bar in Strokestown had to close its kitchen after the HSE found "there was a grave and immediate danger to public health" as there weren't the necessary facilities to ensure "that food produced is protected against contamination".

“There was no running hot or cold water at the staff toilet or the sinks in the food room for the cleaning of food, crockery and cutlery,” the HSE added.

The closure order on the kitchen area was served on December 11th and was subsequently lifted 10 days later.

Last year, 31 closure orders, two improvement orders and 9 prohibition orders were issued by environmental health officers in the HSE, veterinary inspectors in the local authorities and officers of the FSAI on food businesses throughout the country.

Dr Pamela Byrne, chief executive of the FSAI, said there continues to be "a minority of food businesses not complying with their legal requirements".

“All food businesses must recognise that they are legally bound to ensure that the food they produce is safe to eat,” Dr Byrne said.

“Consumers have a right to safe food. Food businesses must comply with food law and all breaches of food safety legislation will be dealt with to the full extent of the law.”

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times