The health legislation provided for the regulation of food and drink. This legislation has been obliged and supplemented by substantial amounts of food safety legislation within the last 20 years. Recent  European Union Legislation has supervened and / or  supplemented this legislation.

The Minister for Health may make regulations regarding the prevention of danger to public health relating to

  • the manufacture, preparation, importation, storage, distribution or exposure for sale of food intended for sale for human consumption.
  • prevention of contamination food for human consumption.
  • prohibition and prevention of sale or offering for sale of food and articles for food for human consumptions, living animals, materials or articles which are diseased otherwise unfit for human consumptions.

Regulations may also be made protecting the interests of consumers including in particular obligations requiring a person who  operating retail, restaurant, or catering  businesses to provide information of the country of origin of meat sold.

The Minister for Health may  prescribe standards in respect of food and services. Regulations  may be made regarding

  • the nature quality or amount of any substance to be contained in food:
  • specifying substances not to be contained or limiting the amount thereof;
  • provisions in relation to methods used and times taking in the manufacture, preparation and distribution of food;
  • provisions regarding labeling and description.

The sale of food in breach of the legislation and regulations made under it constitutes an offence. Similarly, the preparation, manufacture and offering for sale in breach is an offence. Offering, preparing manufacturing  or keeping for sale food for human consumptions in breach of regulations in an offence,

Standards may be prescribed for the composition of food. Failure to sell conforming food is an offence. Where a standard has been prescribed in terms of composition by reference and are sold (etc.)  by reference, then if the brand is found not to conform, the Minister may prohibit the importation and sale of food of that brand or trade description. Failure to comply is an offence.

The Minister may  make regulations requiring suppliers of food

  •  to furnish  samples for examination
  • authorizing examination and certification of samples
  • provisions for printing on the pack or container copies of the relevant certificates,
  • prohibiting sale for  human consumptions of food in a pack or container which does  not contain the  requisite label
  • provisions prohibiting  the sale for human consumptions of food, of a  nature substance or quality inferior o the samples certified for examination.

Contravention of the regulations is an offence.

Regulations provide for the

  • taking of samples or food intended for use of the preparation or manufacture of food
  • test examination and analysis.
  • persons responsible for carrying  test examination of samples.
  • prescribing the means of test examination and analysis
  • certificates which shall be deemed evidence of the results of the test.

The Regulations may make provision for the enforcement of regulations by, health authorities, the  Department of Health,  local authorities, Customs and Excise and the , Department of Agriculture.

Persons may be authorised to seize  remove, detain and destroy;

  • articles of food intended for human consumption;
  • living animals intended for food;
  • materials and articles used or intended for use in the preparation of food which are diseased contaminated or otherwise unfit for human consumption or which will not comply with the regulation.

Provision may be made for  keeping of records by persons engaged in the manufacture preparation, importation, storage distribution or sale of food and for production of such records. Charges may be levied for the purpose of examination, certification and other services provided under the legislation. It is an offence for a person to obstruct the execution of the regulations by the authority.

It is an offence for a person who carries on the business of dealing in rags,  bones, wastepaper, second hand clothes or similar articles to sell, barter or offer for sale, or barter of any food in or from a premises, place or vehicle used in connection such business.

In prosecutions for offence under the food hygiene regulations, food is deemed to be sold or bartered or intended for sale or barter unless proved otherwise. Material or articles found on a premises and used for the preparation or manufacture of foods for human consumption which is capable of being intended for use in such preparations are deemed so intended.

It is the defence in a prosecution in relation to the nature,  substance, quality or condition of food where it is shown that

  • the  person purchased such  food as of such a nature substance or quality or in a condition which would not have contravened such regulation
  • he had a written warranty  to that effect and
  •  he had no reason to believe at the time when he sold such food that it was of different nature, quality or in a different condition and
  • that he sold such food in the same state as when he purchased it.

Such a person may liable to pay the costs of prosecution unless he gives notice that he  intended to rely on this defence. A statement by a manufacturer, importer, or seller of food as to its nature, substance, quality or condition and an invoice or a label or packet is deemed to be warranty for purposes.

The Department of Health may be regulations specify classes of establishments to which the following provision apply. Establishments are schools, colleges, hospitals, sanitariums, nursing homes, hotels, restaurants, clubs, boarding houses, hostels or similar establishment.

Where  such regulations apply, food kept for consumption in an establishment of the type specified is deemed unless the contrary is proved, to be kept for human consumptions. It is deemed unless the contrary is proved,  to be sold for human consumption.

Any material or article found in such establishment or used for or in the preparation of the food for consumption, which is capable of being intended for such preparation or manufacture shall be deemed, until contrary is proved to be so intended. It presumed that the food is kept for human consumption.


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Draft Articles; The articles on this website are in draft form and are subject to further review for typographical errors and, in some cases, updating and correction. It is intended to include references to the sources of materials and acknowledgements in the final version. The content of articles with [EU] in the title and some of the articles in the section on Agriculture are a reproduction of or are based on European or Irish public sector information.

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