The Food Standards Act 1974 facilitates the establishment and enforcement of standards for food for human consumption. Food refers to any substance used for food or drink by man and any substance which enters or is used in the composition or preparation of human food, substances which enter into or is used in the composition or preparation of any such substance and chewing gum or products with similar composition.
The Minister for Health, the Minister for Agriculture and the Minister for Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation are authorised to make regulations for standards in relation to food. In particular but without limiting this power, regulations may provide for
- names of foods,
- description of food,
- composition and quality of food,
- methods of manufacture,
- additives used in the preparation or manufacture,
- contaminants (including pesticide residues,
- hygiene in relation to food,
- time limits for consumption of food,
- packaging, labelling and presentation of food,
- transportation, storage and distribution of food,
- weights and measures for food,
- ancillary matters.
Provisions may be made restricting or prohibiting a person from importing food intended for sale for human consumption, transporting, storing or selling food intended for human consumption under the name specified in the regulations, if the food does not comply with the matters and standards prescribed.
Regulations may provide that a person shall not manufacture food, prepare food, import food, transport food, store food or sell food intended for human consumption, if it does not comply with the regulations. The regulations may provide that a person shall not export food or export it to a specified country unless it complies with regulations. Breach of the legislation is an offence.
The Minister must follow certain procedures including giving prior public notice before making regulations.
Each of the above Ministers may make regulations providing for the enforcement and execution of the regulations by officers of the Minister, officers of the Health Board (now the HSE), local authority officers or officers of Customs and Excise.
Regulations may provide for the keeping of records by persons engaged in the manufacture, preparation, importation, transportation, storage and exportation of food and for the production of such records for inspection by persons concerned in the enforcement or execution of the regulations.
Food legislation refers to various Food Acts as well as statutory instruments made under them and under the European Communities Act EU directly applicable regulations. Food standards have broadly the same meaning as above. They include standards in relation to composition of food, including
- level of contaminants and residues,
- microbiological status and safety,
- methods of sampling;
- production of food,
- packaging, storing and handling of food;
- the sale, importation and exportation of food;
- information about food, including labelling, promoting and advertising;
- avoidance of physical, chemical, radiological or biological examination;
- avoidance of other risks to human health arising from ingestion or otherwise of food;
- maximum or minimum amounts of substances that may be present in food.
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland Act establishes the Food Safety Authority of Ireland. It defines food as any substance used or available to be used or intended to be used for food or drink by human persons and any substance which enters into or is used in the production, composition or preparation of such substances.
Food inspection means a system of inspections carried out by or on behalf of the Authority to ascertain whether
- food, processes to which food is subjected, the physical environment, skills, training and competence of people dealing with food in premises coming under the Act and substances and materials used in the production of food at any stage including,
- animal feeding stuffs
- pre- and post-mortem examination of animals at abattoirs or other such premises
- foods, additives, vitamins, mineral salts, trace elements, flavourings and other additives, materials or articles intended to come into contact with food,
- products of the soil,
- products of stock farming, aquaculture and fisheries and game,
complies with food legislation.
The Food Safety Authority may prosecute summary offences under the legislation. They may be commenced within 12 months from the date on which evidence sufficient to justify proceedings comes to its knowledge, not being later than five years from the date the offence was committed.