Fourteen closure orders, one improvement order, and two prohibition orders were served on food businesses during the month of October, according to the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI).
The orders were issued for breaches of food safety legislation, pursuant to the FSAI Act, 1998 and the EC (Official Control of Foodstuffs) Regulations, 2010.
A closure order was served under the FSAI Act, 1998 on The Whole Hoggs, a small meat manufacturing plant, in Rathmaiden, Slane, Co. Meath.
There were inadequate arrangements for prevention and control of pest activity, according to an authorised officer of the FSAI and Meath County Council.
Foods and material, used for wrapping and packaging foods, were not effectively protected against contamination, it said. They outlined that rodent (mouse) faeces were noted throughout the establishment
"There was a poor standard of cleaning and disinfection and certain pieces of equipment, which come into contact with food, were not maintained in good repair resulting in an increased risk of food contamination."
Some of the reasons for the enforcement orders in October include: Rodent paw marks were present on dusty shelves; gnaw marks were found on coffee bean bags; two dead rats were found in the dry goods storeroom; the interior of a mincing machine, which is used to mince-meat in the production of ready-to-eat meat products, was visibly rusted and dirty internally.
The absence of staff food hygiene training records for all food handlers to verify that they had received food hygiene training commensurate with their work activity.
In another firm, a food worker was handling raw frozen burger meat and not changing gloves when dressing cooked burgers.
Commenting today, Dr Pamela Byrne, Chief Executive, FSAI reiterated the need for food businesses to have adequate pest control systems in place and added businesses must operate strict food safety procedures at all times and that they need to be extra vigilant during this busy time of year.
“Seventeen enforcement orders in one month is the highest in a month to date this year and this is an unacceptable number.”
“As in recent months, a high number of the enforcement orders were associated with issues related to pests and failures in basic staff training.”
These issues are all preventable and food businesses must ensure that they always adhere to a high standard of food safety and hygiene.
She highlighted that it is imperative that a proper pest control system is in place and that this is checked very regularly in order to avoid infestations of rodents and insects.
“With the busy Christmas period nearly upon us, food businesses must be especially vigilant to ensure compliance with the law and to protect the health of their customers.”
“The FSAI provides advice if food businesses are unsure what their legal obligations are at www.fsai.ie or the FSAI Advice Line, firstname.lastname@example.org,” Dr. Byrne concluded.