Food safety and environmental health services


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.

Food safety legislation

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland provides comprehensive information on Irish and international food laws.

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

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.

HSE Environmental Health Officers

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:

  • Food control, including maintaining a register of food premises, inspecting all premises where food is manufactured or sold and investigating complaints about unfit food
  • Enforcing the smoking laws in public places
  • Enforcing the rules on sale and storage of poisons

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.

European Union food safety agencies

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.

The European Commission includes a Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety. This Directorate General has responsibility for food inspection and control.

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).

Where to apply

Food Safety Authority of Ireland

The Exchange
George's Dock
Dublin 1
D01 P2V6

Tel: +353 1 8171300
Locall: 1890 336677
Fax: +353 1 8171301

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Johnstown Castle Estate

Tel: +353 53 9163400
Locall: 1890 200509
Page edited: 20 July 2015