Sir, In his article "Who are you going to call?" (June 2nd) Dick Ahlstrom explores "the intricate labryinth of Government responsibility for the food industry". He describes the crossover of interdepartmental responsibility for the varied areas of the food industry, and suggests that the existing situation will be simplified by the introduction of the Food Safety Authority.

However, the tone of his article presented the current situation as such a ridiculous mess so lacking in cohesion and direction that the average consumer with a food hygiene complaint is given the "run around" from one Government Department to another with no possibility of satisfaction. This is simply untrue.

Central government Departments such as Health and Agriculture formulate policy and statutory legislation, they do not enforce it. Many of the hypothetical complaints cited by Mr Ahlstrom in his article can be dealt with directly by the local Environmental Health Officer, including situations that he was attributing to Cert, the Director of Consumer Affairs, and the Departments of Health and Environment.

At a time when public confidence in the food law enforcement agencies has waned substantially as a result of the recent BSE and ecoli 0157:H7 scares, the Environmental Health Officers Association welcomes the Food Safety Authority. However, we feel that articles such as Mr Ahlstrom's do nothing to enhance consumer confidence in food safety but merely raise unnecessary anxieties among the public. Yours, etc.,

Environmental Health Officers


Dublin 7.