Twenty-three enforcement orders, including 21 closure orders, were served on food businesses nationwide in November - the highest number in a one-month period since legislation was introduced in 1998, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has said.
Some of the reasons for enforcement orders included a dead mouse found in a trap in a kitchen, a live rodent observed running in the direction of the food storage and equipment washing area, substantial pigeon faeces present on the wash basin in a food packing area, evidence of cockroaches throughout a kitchen, and raw sewage found on the floor of a customer toilet.
According to FSAI chief executive, Dr Pamela Byrne, 23 enforcement orders over a one-month period is "totally unacceptable".
"Some of the reasons for enforcement orders in November demonstrate totally inadequate hygiene standards and these operators are damaging the reputation of the food industry as we enter one of the busiest months of the year.
"The presence of rodents and other pests presents a grave and immediate danger to consumers' health, and food businesses must put in place more robust pest control systems," she commented.
She insisted that with the Christmas period already underway, "food businesses must ensure they maintain high food safety standards".
"I hope in December we see a significant reduction in enforcement orders, and improving food safety standards," Dr Byrne said.
If food businesses are unsure what their legal obligations are, the FSAI can provide advice. Email email@example.com.
Meanwhile, all enforcement orders are listed on the FSAI website here.
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