No-One Is Outside the Food Safety Net

June 9th, 2007

In 1997 a food franchise in Croke Park was convicted of 70 breaches of hygiene regulations. Today, under changed legislation, each breach could bring a £1,000 fine and/or six months’ imprisonment.

The law on food safety is now tough and exacting, following changes in 1998 which introduced higher penalties and new requirements for food businesses. No business – involved in preparation, storage or service of food – is exempt and the recent E-coli scare in a Donegal creche underlined the need for this. Read more…

How Safe is Our Food?

June 9th, 2007

Employers Urged to Ensure Hygiene Training Standards
Food Safety, and consumer confidence in the hospitality industry’s ability to adequately maintain it, is a key issue facing the tourism and hospitality industry today.

According to a recent Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) report, between 1998 and 2000, there were over 100 outbreaks of food poisoning in Ireland. As a result of this, 2,700 people were ill, 246 were hospitalised and 6 people died.

The question must simply be asked – Why?

Around thirty-five percent of all food poisoning outbreaks are traced back to an infected food handler. One reason that has been offered is the high turnover of staff, which makes it more difficult for employers to properly train their staff. This has also been linked to the fact that half of all outbreaks occurred in commercial catering companies. Infection is usually transmitted on food, with a 25% spread from person to person, and two percent due to contaminated water. Read more…

Food Safety is no longer (just) the Chef´s Problem

June 9th, 2007

Notified cases of food poisoning in this country have risen substantially – from 300 in 1992 to 2,500 in 1998 – partially through increased consumer sensitivity but also as a result of some fundamental changes in the food industry in Ireland.

There are now more businesses dealing in food than ever before and the profile of employment in these businesses has radically changed. We know that today over 200,000 work in food related businesses – this not only increases the risk of human error but the transient nature of much of this employment works against the efforts of many businesses to manage food risk. You have only to look at the facts to realise this: 27% of the workforce is seasonal or part-time, employment of foreign, often short-term workers is on the increase and staff turnover is currently running at 12%. Read more…

Food Poisoning Need Not Happen

June 9th, 2007

With food safety now a mainstream concern, in the wake of the 1998 hygiene legislation, it is worth considering where food businesses are most at risk. According to Siobhan McEvoy, Acting Chief Environmental Health Officer, Department of Health and Children, typical hygiene breaches would include:

- Breakdown in temperature control. For example, cooked food left at room temperature for a long period or food cooled overnight in a kitchen.
- Lack of adequate hand washing facilities, which usually means no soap or drying facilities.
- Unhygienic practices, including handling raw and cooked meat without hand washing or storing raw and cooked meat side by side in the same cold room.
- Dirty surfaces, typically the accumulation of dirt on worksurfaces, equipment and cooking appliances. Read more…

A Safe Path to Walk

June 9th, 2007

As the food and tourism industries tread the minefield of food safety, a website launched by the National Hygiene Partnership will make the task somewhat easier.

The 1998 legislation on food safety is quite clear. Every food business must adopt the principles of HACCP and every employee who handles food must be instructed or trained in hygiene. For many this is an unwelcome headache, yet the penalties for non-compliance are very real. But three years on, how well are food related businesses faring?

“The industry has come a long way in recognising food safety as a serious issue,” according to John D. Carroll, Chairman of the National Hygiene Partnership, which this month launched a website as part of its hygiene drive. “Certainly there has been significant change over the last five years in the way businesses handle food. But there is no room for complacency. The industry is still undergoing a sizeable change of mindset and is adapting to new hygiene practices – it has by no means arrived yet.” Read more…

The National Hygiene Partnership is the trading name for a Partnership of Government Agencies and Industry Representatives Bodies which was established for the purpose of developing , promoting and coordinating a range of food safety training initiatives for the Irish Food Sectors. The NHP is registered for VAT in Ireland, Registration number 9535893H and the business address is Abbey Court, Block B. Lower Abbey Street, Dublin 1.