Food safety and eating out
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) protects consumers' health by ensuring that food consumed, distributed, marketed or produced in Ireland meets the highest standards of food safety and hygiene. In addition, the FSAI have responsibility for ensuring that food that is sold in food premises complies with legal requirements, or where appropriate, with recognised codes of good practice.
In general, food safety standards are high. These food safety standards are also set down in law to protect the consumer and to set out best practice for retailers. On the ground, enforcement of food safety standards operates through the network of Environmental Health Officers appointed in each Health Service Executive (HSE) Area throughout the country. If you are unhappy about the quality of food you have purchased or you have concerns regarding the cleanliness of a food premises, it is important to know how to notify the authorities of your concerns.
Under the Food Safety Authority Act 1998, the Authority is empowered to issue special enforcement provisions. These enforcement provisions are in addition to the powers to prosecute offenders on specific pieces of food legislation. Broadly speaking, the law entitles the Food Safety Authority or its officials to issue three different types of enforcement orders for breaches of food safety legislation.
- Improvement order: issued by the District Court against an offender. Issued when any activity involving the handling, preparation etc. of food, or the condition of a premises where food is handled or prepared may pose a risk to public health.
- Closure order: issued if there is, or is likely to be a grave and immediate danger to public health at the food premises. It may be lifted when premises improve.
- Prohibition order: issued if the activities (handling, processing, disposal, manufacturing, storage, distribution or selling food) involve, or are likely to involve, a serious risk to public health from a particular product, class, batch or item of food. The effect is to prohibit the sale of the product, either temporarily or permanently.
Closure and prohibition orders are listed on the FSAI website.
Making a complaint about a food premises
If you have a complaint about food you have consumed or a food premises you have visited, you should contact the Environmental Health Officer (EHO) in your HSE Area as soon as possible.
Normally following a complaint, an official will arrange to meet with you. At this meeting, you will discuss making an official complaint and the official will help you to complete an official complaint form. If you submit a food complaint, the unfit food may be sent to a laboratory for analysis. You will be contacted with the result. Alternatively, you can have suspect food analysed independently for a fee by contacting the Public Analyst Laboratory in your region.
Where To Apply
The FSAI Advice Line on 1890 33 66 77 provides information and advice on a range of food safety issues. It is staffed by trained advisors and food scientists.