Food Safety Authority of Ireland
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) is an independent statutory organisation. It was established by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland Act, 1998.
The FSAI protects consumers by ensuring that standards for food safety and hygiene are met by food businesses at all stages of production, processing and distribution. It works with other official agencies, including the Health Service Executive (HSE), to enforce food safety legislation in Ireland.
This document explains what the FSAI does, how food safety laws are enforced, and how to make a complaint about a food premises.
What does the FSAI do?
The FSAI is responsible for:
- Sending food safety inspectors to test food samples for contamination
- Referring complaints about food safety from the public to the relevant Environmental Health Office
- Training food safety inspectors and other food industry workers about 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
Read more about the role of the FSAI on its website.
Food safety assurance schemes
The FSAI may, either on its own or with food producers, set up schemes to protect consumer interests – for example, the Bord Bia Quality Assurance schemes.
These food safety schemes cover:
- The promotion of best practice guidelines
- The preparation of guidelines on raw materials, processing, packaging, preparation, storage and handling
Enforcement of food safety laws
The FSAI has service contracts with other official agencies, including the HSE and the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority, to make sure all food premises comply with food safety laws. The FSAI is responsible for:
- Co-ordinating the enforcement of food safety legislation in Ireland
- Supporting Ireland’s food safety regulators (such as Environmental Health Officers) to implement a fair, consistent and effective system of enforcement
- Managing risks in the food chain and responding to any national or international food incidents
- Ensuring the safety of the food chain by detecting, deterring and preventing breaches of food law
- Researching food safety through coordinated studies and scientific collaboration
The FSAI can also seek reports from any state body on matters affecting food safety. It reports to the Minister for Health.
Environmental Health Officers
The FSAI works with Environmental Health Officers from the HSE to inspect food premises.
Environmental Health Officers can:
- Enter and inspect food premises
- Secure a food premises for later inspection
- Inspect and, if necessary, remove records
- Take samples of food or related materials, and have these samples analysed
It is an offence to obstruct an officer carrying out this duty.
You can find contact details for your local Environmental Health Officer on the HSE website.
Improvement notices and closure orders
If the Environmental Health Officer finds that a premises or a practice (such as food handling or preparation) is likely to be a risk to public health, they may give the owner an improvement notice. This includes:
- The cause of the risk to public health
- The remedial action that needs to be taken
- The time limit for the owner to take remedial action
If the owner does not carry out the improvements as recommended by the authorised officer, the FSAI or HSE may seek an improvement order from the District Court. An improvement order outlines what needs to be improved upon, and the timeframe within which the owner needs to do it.
If there is an immediate danger to public health, the authorised officer may
issue a closure order. This means the owner must close the
business until the issue has been resolved. A closure order may also be issued
if an improvement order is not acted on. Closure
and prohibition orders are listed on the FSAI website.
How to make a food safety complaint
You can make a formal complaint about food poisoning by either contacting your local Environmental Health Officer or by contacting the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI).
You can complete a complaint form on the FSAI website. This form is confidential and will not be shared with the restaurant or shop you are complaining about.
The FSAI will send your completed form to a HSE Environmental Health Officer who will then investigate your complaint.
You can also ring the FSAI on 0818 33 66 77.