Ireland's regulator issues warning on recalls

By Ahmed ElAmin

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food, European union, Food safety authority of ireland

With 22 food recalls made in Ireland since January, the
country's regulator has warned managers to follow safety
regulation or face the consequences.

In a seminar held yesterday, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) warned manufacturers and others that they could not rely on excuses for failing to act to recall unsafe food. Since January this year, the FSAI has investigated a possible 80 individual food incidents, 57 of which required action. Of the total, 35 per cent related to chemical hazards in food products, while 26 per cent were due to pathogen contamination. Another 11 per cent of the incidents related to labelling and 4 per cent to foreign bodies in food products, the FSAI reported. In addition, food businesses made 22 food product recalls during the period. Since January, EU member states notifed the Commission of 687 food alerts. The alerts were issued by regulatory agencies when these identified potentially unsafe food on the market, some of which could also be have been imported into Ireland, the FSAI stated. FSAI speakers said that the onus was firmly on the industry to ensure critical recall procedures were in place for swiftly removing unsafe food from the marketplace. Under EU food hygiene regulations, food businesses are legally obliged to comply with strict procedures for withdrawing and recalling unsafe food from the marketplace. They are also obliged to inform consumers publicly on any potential health hazards relating to food they may have purchased. The European Commission's Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF), provides a means for national regulators to determine whether an incident in one member state applies to their country. Food business operators must inform the FSAI of any problems, and it, in turn, alerts the European Commission if the unsafe food product has the potential to be available in other parts of Europe. Jeffrey Moon, chief specialist environmental health, said a lack of knowledge of recall procedures would not be accepted as an excuse. Managers arelegally obligated to be fully up to speed on current procedures. Similarly, food businesses that attempt to conceal potential health hazards would face "severe penalties", he said. "Last year an international confectionery brand failed to inform the relevant authorities in a timely manner of a potential Salmonella problem they had with their products - they paid the price for this irresponsible action in court,"​ he said in referring to a recall incident involving Cadbury. Consumers and the regulatory authorities must be fully informed immediately if there is a withdrawal or recall of food and be told the reasons why, he said. "Food businesses should also be aware of how the national and international rapid alert systems operate so that they can react to any potential health danger posed quickly and effectively," he said.

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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