A number of different agencies have a role in food safety and environmental health services in Ireland and throughout the European Union (EU).
The Department of Health has an overall policy role on food hygiene and safety in Ireland. The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has responsibility for a number of areas, mainly primary food products and animal health. Local authorities and the Health Service Executive (HSE) also have a role in implementing food safety rules.
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland has the overall co-ordinating role for food safety control programmes and monitoring. It works with the agencies listed above and with other agencies including the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority, which is responsible for seafood safety.
The Health Products Regulatory Authority is the statutory body that regulates medicines, medical devices and other health products.
Safefood – the Food Safety Promotion Board is a cross-border body set up under the Good Friday Agreement to promote food safety on the island of Ireland.
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland provides comprehensive information on Irish and international food laws.
The Department has overall responsibility for animal health and welfare and for some areas of plant health. It also has direct responsibility in a number of primary product areas.
The Department's Veterinary Public Health Inspectorate is responsible for official controls in milk pasteurisation, slaughterhouses, meat processing plants and egg product facilities.
Environmental Health Officers are employed by the HSE and implement national and EU laws on food safety and hygiene. They sometimes provide services for the local authorities as well. Among their responsibilities in the food safety area are:
Environmental Health Officers have other public health and environmental functions, including pest control, monitoring of temporary dwellings, and inspection of public buildings such as schools and places of entertainment.
Individuals may contact Environmental Health Officers to complain about matters such as hygiene in food premises or water quality.
The European Food Safety Authority is an independent EU agency whose main role is to provide independent scientific advice. It also assesses risks relating to the food chain and informs the public accordingly.
While the European Food Safety Authority advises on possible risk related to food safety, the responsibility for risk management lies with the EU institutions (the European Commission, Parliament and Council). It is the role of the EU institutions, taking into account the European Food Safety Authority's advice and other considerations, to propose and adopt legislation, as well as regulatory and control measures as required.
The EU Food and Veterinary Office is responsible for monitoring compliance with various EU laws including those on food hygiene. It carries out inspections and audits in EU States and in countries exporting to the EU. It also carries out audits regarding animal health and welfare, plant health, and the use of chemicals (such as pesticides, veterinary medicines and growth stimulants).
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.