The Food Safety Authority of Ireland has or delegates enforcement powers. Enforcement is carried out by authorised officers and agent.
The Food Safety Authority may make an improvement order. An improvement notice is issued in the first instance wherein the opinion of the authorised officer and the activity involving handling, preparation of food or the condition of premises is or may pose a threat to public health. If this is not complied, an improvement order may be made by the District Court.
The closure order may be issued by an authorised officer of the Authority where there is likely to be a grave and immediate danger to public health at the food premises. The closure orders can require the immediate closure of all or part of the premises or some activities.
The prohibition order may be issued if the activities involved are likely to involve a serious risk to public health for a particular class, batch or item of food. The effect is to prohibit the sale of products temporarily or permanently.
The Food Safety Authority maintains a database of its orders on its website.
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland coordinates enforcement of food safety legislation. It is responsible for:
- promoting consumer’s interest;
- advising ministers, regulators of food industry and consumers on food safety issues;
- coordination of delivery of food safety services;
- ensuring food complies with legal requirement;
- working with the food industry to gain commitment to safe food practices;
- setting food standards;
- risk management in association with other agencies.
Service contracts are put in place between the Food Safety Authority of Ireland and various bodies including the Health Services Executive, Department of Agriculture, Department of Communications Marine and Natural Resources (fisheries); Local authorities.
The FSAI produces guidance notes and codes of practices for agencies to use during their food control program. It has published substantial information on its website.
Regulations may allow for entry in and inspection at all reasonable times of premises in which it is reasonably believed that food to which the regulations apply is being manufactured for sale, prepared for sale, stored for sale or sold.
They may provide for entry and inspection onto ships, vehicles and containers in which it is reasonably believe that there is food to which the regulations apply. They may allow for seizure, detention and removal of food in relation to which there is reasonable grounds for suspecting of contravention of the regulations.
They may provide for the giving and taking of samples of food and materials used or intended for use in the manufacture or preparation of food. They may provide for carrying out of tests, examinations and analyses. They may prescribe classes of persons responsible for such tests, examinations and analyses, the means by which they are to be done, provisions for certification of the same and that certification is presumptive evidence.
The food safety Authority has powers to serve and enforce Closure orders and Prohibition orders.
The Authority has power to carry out inspections, approvals, licensing and registration of premises and equipment including that used in connection with the manufacture or processing, disposal, transport and storage of food. They arrange for the inspection sampling and analysis of food and food ingredients. It may undertake inspection and analysis of food labeling to determine compliance.
The Authority may refer in any particular circumstance identified by an official officer. It is in the interest of food hygiene and safety carry out and have such additional inspection as is necessary for the discharge of its functions undertaken. And so far as possible inspections are to be taken out and consultation with appropriate person.
The board may appoint authorised officers for the purpose of the functions of the agency. Agencies which enter service contracts with the board may themselves appoint or authorize officers for the purpose of the contract. Authorised officers are to be furnished with evidence of their appointment, which maybe produced.
Authorised officers have substantial powers to obtain information required to enable them to exercise their function. They may enter a premises where there are reasonable grounds to believe that any trade, business or activity in connection with the production, processing, disposal, manufacture, exportation, importation, storage and distribution of sale of food is or has been carried on, or where records in relation to such trade, business or activity are kept. It may search and inspect the premises and records. It may secure for inspection any premises in which there are grounds for believing records are kept.
The officers may inspect and take copies and extracts from such records, remove and retain them and require persons to give information as reasonably required.
In common with equivalent legislation an authorised officer may only enter a dwelling house with the consent of the occupier or with a District Court warrant. Where necessary, a member of a Garda Síochána may be required to assist the officer.
A warrant may be granted where there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that information is required by the officer held in any premises. The warrant may authorize searches. It is an offence to obstruct or fail to give the requisite information to an authorised officer.
For the purpose of carrying out its functions there are numerous specific powers to take samples of foods and materials or articles or the purpose of carrying out tests, examination or analysis. Certificates or other evidence given as a result of such tests are presumptive evidence of the result of the test and are accepted by courts unless the contrary is shown. It is an offence to obstruct an officer in the course of his work.
The board has substantial powers in relation to the withdrawal of food products.
As regards any activities involving handling, processing, disposal and manufacture of storage, distribution of sale of food, if an authorised officer is of the opinion that a serious risk to public health exists it may following consultations, serve a prohibition order on a proprietor or person in charge of the food in question.
The order states that the authorised person is of the opinion that the food concerned must be withdrawn from sale. It must specify the matters giving rise to the risk and whether they involve contravention of food legislation. It must direct the person on whom the order is served to ensure the food is not used for consumption, is recalled and that appropriate measures are taken for disposal of it.
In the event of non-compliance, officers of the Authority may take whatever steps are necessary to ensure compliance.
An order may take effect immediately if so specified or in other cases on expiration of an appeal period. The procedures in respect of an appeal to court are similar to the case of a closure order as set out above.
Where an authorised officer is of the opinion that any premises or land adjacent to such premises involves an activity of handling, preparation or processing, distribution or storage of food and the condition is such as is likely to be a risk to public health, the officer may following consultations with the chief executive officer or other officer or agency designated, serve or arrange to serve a improvement notice on the proprietor.
The improvement notice shall specify the activity and defect and require immediate action to be taken. If appropriate, it shall give and specify the nature and details of the remedial action. It should specify the time limit in which remedial action is to be taken or implemented and to include such other requirements as are deemed appropriate.
An improvement notice is served on the proprietor or person in charge of the premises and may be made to be effective immediately, if required.
Improvement notices may be varied or revoked. Where an improvement notice is not complied with, an application may be made to the District Court for an improvement order. The improvement order must specify the remedial work, the time limit for compliance and completion, such other requirements as are appropriate.
The improvement order provides that the Authority or official agency serve a closure order where the improvement order is not complied within the time or where the circumstances specified in the improvement order arise prior to the expiry of the time as such as the warrant in serving a closure order. This is not effective power of the agency to serve a closure order where circumstances required.
Where an authorised officer is of the opinion that there is likely to be a grave and immediate danger to public health at a premises or part of it or if the officer is unable to establish to his satisfaction due to obstruction the level or extent of danger, the authorised officer may following consultations with the chief executive officer or other designated officers, issue an immediate closure order.
A closure order may take effect immediately where specified or in cases where no appeal is taken on the expiry of the appeal period. Where an appeal is taken it is to take effect if the closure order is confirmed on appeal.
The bringing of an appeal is not to effect the closure order where such as is immediately effective but the appellant may apply to the court to have the operation suspended until the appeal is disposed off. The court may do if it thinks proper.
A person may appeal the closure order within seven days to the District Court. The judge may if he is satisfied that it is reasonable to do so confirm the closure order with or without modification or cancel the closure order.
A person who appealed against the closure order applies for suspension, he must notify the Authority concerned who are entitled to appear and offer evidence at the appeal or the application.
Where a closure order is contravened a High Court order may issue prohibiting the continuance of the activity.
A person who, in accordance with the legislation and regulations under it, has seized food may dispose of it in a manner that will prevent its use for human consumption, if an order of the District Court is given or if the consent of the owner or person in apparent charge or control of it is given.
A person who has seized food may on giving notice to the owner in apparent charge or control, apply to the District Court for an order directing that it be disposed of by destruction or otherwise. Where an application is made to the District Court, the Court shall, if it is satisfied the food does not comply with the regulations, order that it be disposed of in a manner specified.
If the court is not satisfied that the food did not comply with the regulations, it may order its restoration to the person entitled and may order payment of compensation and expenses.
Such order shall not have effect 14 days after its making. The order may be appealed to the Circuit Court. If the District Court is satisfied that an order made by it under the above provision should have effect before 14 days expires, it may so specify in the order.
The Circuit Court may reverse the District Court and order payment of compensation and or restoration of the food etc.
Where it is proved in a prosecution that a person manufactured, prepared, imported, exported, transported or stored food, it is presumed until the contrary is shown, that it was intended for human consumption. Where in any prosecution it is shown that food has been sold, it is presumed, until the contrary is proved, that it was sold for human consumption.
If the defendant in a prosecution proves
- that he received food as being in compliance with regulations and with a written warranty to that effect
- that he duly notified the prosecutor of the warranty and its contents before the prosecution,
- that he had no reason to believe at the time he disposed of the food that it did not comply with the regulations and
- that the food, when disposed of him, was in the same state as when he received it,
the defendant shall be discharged from the prosecution.
It is defence in a prosecution for an offence which relates to food in the course of transportation or storage but did not relate to the conditions under which the food is transported or stored, to show that the transport or storage of the food was effected by him under a contract for services between the defendant or his agent and the owner of the food.
Where it appears to a person enforcing the legislation that an offence has been committed in respect of which proceedings might be taken against some person who could establish a defence above by proving that the offence complained of, was due to an act or default of another person, the person enforcing the provision shall take proceedings against that other person without taking proceedings against the first-mentioned person.
Obstruction of a person in enforcing the regulations is an offence. There is provision for a fine on summary conviction and continuing fines for an continuing offence.