Below is the legislation that applies to butcher shops. You must ensure you are familiar with this legislation and the requirements that apply to your business. Links are given to available guidance on the legislation.
- General hygiene rules
- Specific hygiene rules for foods of animal origin
- Specified risk material (SRM)
- Animal by-products (ABP)
- Microbiological testing
- Food additives
- Information to be provided to or displayed for customers
- Enforcement of legislation
This legislation sets out rules on food hygiene, both specific rules and more general requirements, including:
- registration of the food business
- a food safety management system based on the principles of HACCP
- premises layout
- temperature control
- personal hygiene
You must register your food business with the local environmental health office before you start operating. The environmental health officer will be your inspector.
This regulation sets out additional, specific hygiene rules for businesses handling and/or processing foods of animal origin including requirements for approval (where relevant) before commencing business.
Butchers shops selling only to the final consumer are exempt from most parts of these regulations.
If you are supplying other food businesses then you may require approval. You should discuss this with your environmental health officer to make sure you are complying with legislation.
If you handle shellfish or other fishery products, there are some requirements which apply to retails sales (see Regulation 853/2004/EC Annex II Chapters V, VI, VIII and IX, and point 3 of Chapter VII for bivalve mollusc and/or Chapter III, Parts A, C and D, Chapter IV and Chapter V for fishery products).
Marginal, localised and restricted activities (MLR)
Health (Definition of Marginal, Localised and Restricted Activity) (Butcher Shop) Regulations 2010 (S.I. 340 of 2010)
If you supply foods of animal origin to other retail premises, e.g. cafés, restaurants, hotels you may still be exempt from the requirements of this regulation if such supply is within the criteria for marginal, localised and restricted (MLR) sales. See our section on MLR for more information.
The definition of bovine specified risk material (SRM) for Ireland has changed which means that butcher shops no longer need to remove vertebral column from beef before sale to the consumer of wholesale.
This change came about because in 2021, following Ireland’s re-categorisation by OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) as negligible BSE risk, the EU Commission issued Decision (EU) 2021/1321 amending the Annex to Decision 2007/453/EC as regards the BSE status of Ireland.
This Decision changed Ireland’s BSE status from a controlled BSE risk to a negligible BSE risk. This reduces the level of controls that must be applied to products of bovine origin (beef) to protect human health.
You must make sure that animal by-products not intended for human consumption are safely disposed of.
All animal by-products must be classified as Category 1, 2 or 3. For butchers, this is:
Category 1 – Animal by-products defined as Specific Risk Material
Category 2 – Animal by-products not fit for human consumption
Category 3 – Animal by-products not defined as Category 1 or 2 including catering waste
There are specific processes for dealing with waste in each category as well as exemptions for Category 3 waste disposal. See our section on Waste Disposal for more information.
Regulation (EC) No 2073/2005 on microbiological criteria for foodstuffs
This legislation sets out microbiological criteria (i.e. tests for certain bacteria and limits for these bacteria) that must be met for certain foods.
You must make sure that the food you handle, supply or process complies with any relevant microbiological criteria set out in this legislation. The legislation has most impact on food businesses that produce, manufacture or package food for which there is a relevant criterion set in the legislation.
The steps a butcher must take in order to comply will vary depending on the activities they carry out. Some food businesses will need to sample and test food at the frequency set out in the Regulation. Others will simply need to maintain good hygiene practice and adequate temperature control.
Details on the requirements of this legislation and minimum sampling frequencies and derogations are provided for in this legislation and the following guidance: Minimum sampling frequencies for butchers shops
Providing cooking instructions for some foods
This legislation also requires butchers to label minced meat, meat preparations and meat products, from all animal species other than poultry, intended to be eaten cooked, with cooking instructions. How this is provided by the butcher will depend on whether the product is sold loose or prepacked.
This legislation details the food additives that are permitted for defined food categories, e.g. additives authorised in meat preparations like breakfast sausages.
See guidance on use and labelling of food additives.
This legislation sets out the food information that must be provided to your customers.
EU (Provision of Food Information to Consumers) Regulations 2014 (S.I. No. 556 of 2014)
This legislation outlines that the food business operator is guilty of an offence if he/she supplies, advertises and presents food that is misleading, inaccurate and not easy to understand.
It outlines how the food information must be made available and presented, what is needed for distance selling (e.g. online, by telephone), language particulars and nutrition information.
Go to the section on labelling for more detailed information
Provision of allergen information for loose food
Health (Provision of Food Allergen Information to Consumers in respect of Non-Prepacked Food) Regulations 2014 (S.I. No. 489 of 2014)
This legislation details how food allergen information is to be provided/presented to the consumer for loose food.
See guidance on allergen labelling
Exemption from nutrition labelling
European Union (provision of food information to consumers)(Amendment)(No. 2) Regulations 2016 (S.I. No. 559/2016)
Most prepacked food must display nutrition information but there are some exemptions if the conditions set out in this legislation can be met.
See the section on exemption from nutrition labelling.
Use of the term 'gluten free'
Regulation (EU) No. 828/2014 on the requirements for the provision of information to consumers on the absence or reduced presence of gluten in food.
The term ‘gluten-free’ can only be used for a food which contains no more than 20 mg/kg of gluten.
The term ‘very low gluten’ may only be used where food consisting of or containing one or more ingredients made from wheat, rye, barley, oats or their crossbred varieties which have been specially processed to reduce the gluten content to no more than 100 mg/kg of gluten in the food as sold to the final consumer.
See our Guidance Note 24 for more information on this.
Country of origin labelling for fresh, chilled and frozen meat of pigs, sheep, goats and poultry
Regulation (EU) No 1337/2013 laying down rules for the application of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 as regards the indication of the country of origin or place of provenance for fresh, chilled and frozen meat of swine, sheep, goats and poultry
Labelling of beef and beef products
Regulation (EC) No 1760/2000 establishing a system for the identification and registration of bovine animals and regarding the labelling of beef and beef products
Regulation (EC) No 1825/2000 laying down detailed rules for the application of Regulation (EC) No 1760/2000 as regards the labelling of beef and beef products
The requirements apply to all fresh or frozen beef, either carcasses, de-boned meat, cut meat or minced meat, which are marketed in the EU.
Butchers must record certain information and provide this on a label, or display the information to customers, regarding the origin of the beef to ensure proper traceability of beef throughout the food chain.
See the labelling section for details.
Labelling of Fish
Regulation (EU) No 1379/2013 is applicable where fish, shellfish and crustaceans (e.g. crabs) are being sold from your premises.
They can be live, fresh, chilled and/or frozen. It also includes those that are dried, salted, smoked or in brine, e.g. anchovies, crustaceans, molluscs, seaweed and algae. These products can be pre-packed or sold loose.
See the labelling section for details.
It is your responsibility to make sure you are complying with legislation.
Environmental Health Officers will carry out inspections periodically to check you are complying with the relevant legislation. They have various enforcement actions they can take if they come across issues with your business.
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