Food safety and environmental health services
In Ireland and the European Union, different agencies are responsible for food safety and environmental health services.
This document explains what the agencies do, and how to get in contact with them.
Who is responsible for food safety in Ireland?
The Department of Health is responsible for the overall policy on food hygiene and safety in Ireland.
The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is responsible for animal health and welfare, as well as some areas of plant health. It is also in charge of monitoring milk pasteurisation, slaughterhouses, meat processing plants and egg product facilities.
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) is an independent statutory organisation. It protects consumers by ensuring that food safety and hygiene standards are met in shops, restaurants, hotels, market stalls and fishing vessels.
It does this by:
- Sending food safety inspectors to test food samples for contamination
- Training food safety inspectors and other food industry workers on food law
- Telling the public when there is a food safety issue, such as a product recall or restaurant closure
- Investigating food labels and fraudulent food
- Developing food safety guidelines
- Advising on national nutrition policy
If you would like to make a food safety complaint about a food outlet, such as a supermarket or restaurant, you can submit a complaint form to the FSAI. They will refer your complaint to the appropriate Environmental Health Office for investigation.
Safefood is a cross-border organisation that promotes food safety and nutrition on the island of Ireland. It:
- Provides healthy eating and food safety advice to the public
- Carries out research into food safety
- Carries out surveillance of diet-related disease, including obesity
The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority
The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) is responsible for seafood safety and sea-fisheries protection in Ireland. It:
- Monitors and inspects food safety controls on fishing vessels and in aquaculture production areas
- Monitors establishments’ handling, preparation and processing of seafood (excluding retail sale)
The Health Service Executive
The Health Service Executive (HSE) employs Environmental Health Officers to investigate food safety complaints. You can find contact details for your local Environmental Health Officer on the HSE website.
Environmental Health Officers also:
- Inspect all premises where food is manufactured or sold
- Enforce the ban on smoking in public places
- Enforce public health alcohol legislation
- Enforce the rules on sale and storage of poisons
Environmental Health Officers have other public health and environmental responsibilities, including pest control, monitoring of temporary dwellings, and inspection of public buildings such as schools and places of entertainment.
The Health Products Regulatory Authority
The Health Products Regulatory Authority is the statutory body that regulates medicines, medical devices and other health products. It was formerly known as the Irish Medicines Board (IMB).
Food safety laws
You can find information on Irish and European food laws on the Food Safety Authority of Ireland website.
Who is responsible for food safety in the European Union?
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 food safety risks, other EU institutions (including the European Commission, Parliament and Council) are responsible for risk management. These EU institutions take advice from the European Food Safety Authority, and then propose and adopt legislation. They also enforce regulatory and control measures as required.
The European Commission includes a Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety. This Directorate General is responsible for EU policy on food safety and health. It also monitors the implementation of related laws. You can find the latest EU food safety news and reports on the Directorate General’s website.
The EU Food and Veterinary Office is responsible for monitoring compliance with various EU laws, including those on food hygiene. It inspects and audits EU states and 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).