Some illegal food business operators could be using the COVID-19 pandemic to take advantage of people who want to shop locally to support their own community, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has warned.
It made its comment after revealing that despite the huge number of food businesses that are currently closed, it still served three enforcement orders on businesses during the month of May for breaches of food safety legislation.
One closure order and two prohibition orders were served on businesses that had not complied with food law. These non-compliances included the operation of an unregistered and unapproved food business from a domestic dwelling and the transport and storage of unrefrigerated meat.
An establishment in Westmeath was found to be selling products that were not fit for human consumption. They had no valid shelf lives, were not properly labelled and they contained undeclared allergens.
According to the FSAI chief executive, Dr Pamela Byrne, some illegal food business operators "could be seeking to take advantage of consumers who are shopping locally and wishing to support food businesses in their own community".
"The prohibition orders resulted in over 1,500kg of meat and meat products being seized and destroyed. No matter where, how or from whom consumers buy food, it must be safe to eat, produced in an approved or registered food establishment and comply with food law, so that public health is protected.
"The vast majority of food businesses not only abide by, but also invest in, ensuring that the food they produce and distribute complies with food safety legislation, to ensure the protection of consumer health," Dr Byrne commented.
She also pointed out that there is specific legislation governing the declaration of food allergens, "which can pose a fatal risk to certain segments of our population".
"The enforcement orders in May were served for a blatant disregard for compliance with food legislation. We are calling on everyone to be vigilant about food being offered for sale and if they are unsure or suspect there is an unusual activity being demonstrated by a retailer, processor, distributor or from a domestic dwelling, that they can contact us via our online complaint form at https://www.fsai.ie/makeitbetter/ and we will investigate," she said.
Details of food businesses served with enforcement orders can be viewed on the FSAI website here.
Discussions on this topic are now closed.