Guidance for person(s) who wish to make a protected disclosure to the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) on any matter relating to the functions of the FSAI regarding the application of food safety legislation.
1. Policy Statement
The Protected Disclosures Act, 2014 provides a statutory framework within which workers can raise concerns regarding relevant wrongdoing in their workplace in the knowledge that they can avail of significant employment protections and other protections if they are penalised by their employer or suffer any detriment for doing so.
This policy sets out the procedures that the FSAI has put in place to facilitate workers to make a disclosure to the FSAI under Section 7 of the Protected Disclosures Act, 2014.
Note: This document is not a complete or authoritative statement of the law or a legal interpretation of the Protected Disclosures Act, 2014.
Under Statutory Instrument 339 of 2014 (SI 339), the Chief Executive Officer of the FSAI has been assigned as the recipient of disclosures of relevant wrongdoings in respect of all matters relating to the regulation, enforcement and monitoring of food safety in the State under the Food Safety Authority of Ireland Act, 1998 (No. 29 of 1998), Section 11 of which states the principle functions of the FSAI shall be to take all reasonable steps to ensure that:
- (a) food produced in the State (whether or not distributed or marketed in the State), and;
- (b) food distributed or marketed in the State,;
meets the highest standards of food safety and hygiene reasonably attainable and it shall, in particular, take all reasonable steps to ensure that such food complies
- (i) with food legislation in respect of food safety and hygiene standards, or;
- (ii) where appropriate, with the provisions of generally recognised standards or codes of good practice aimed at ensuring the achievement of high standards of food hygiene and food safety.
The purpose of this policy is to provide guidance to workers outside of the FSAI with information on making a protected disclosure to the FSAI. This policy is for information purposes only and does not constitute as legal advice and should not be relied on, as such.
These procedures apply to all workers, as defined in section 3 of the Protected Disclosures Act,
2014, which includes:
I. Current and former employees,
II. Independent contractors,
IV. Agency staff.
The Act only applies to workers and does not cover volunteers or the general public.
5. What is a ‘Protected Disclosure’?
A protected disclosure is defined as a disclosure of relevant information which, in the reasonable belief of the worker, tends to show one or more relevant wrongdoings, which came to the attention of the worker in connection with the worker’s employment, is disclosed in the manner prescribed in the Protected Disclosures Act, 2014 and is in the public interest.
In addition, a worker from outside the FSAI making a protected disclosure to the Chief Executive Officer must also have a reasonable belief that:
A. The information they disclose falls within the remit of the FSAI and;
B. The information (and any allegation contained within it) is substantially true.
The purpose of this policy is to provide guidance to workers outside of the FSAI, with information on making a disclosure to the FSAI. This policy is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such.
Explanation of terms:
Relevant Information: This is factual information that comes to a worker’s attention in connection with their employment and which the worker reasonably believes tends to show one or more relevant wrongdoings.
Reasonable Belief: Involves both, a belief and reasonable grounds which support that belief. It may involve an interplay of objective facts and circumstances, opinion and judgment, but does not include idle speculation or drawing on improbable circumstances or conclusions.
Relevant Wrongdoing: In respect of disclosures made to the Chief Executive Officer of the FSAI from workers outside the FSAI, this refers to wrongdoing in food businesses and official agencies under service contract to the FSAI.
Public Interest: A matter of common concern among citizens in the management and affairs of the State. It does not mean mere curiosity, but, is a broad term that refers to the body politic and the public wealth. it incorporates the net benefits derived for, and procedural rigor employed on behalf of, all society in relation to any action, decision or policy. Matters of public interest include but, are not confined to; matters regarding crime, or serious impropriety; the protection of public health and safety and preventing the public from being misled by an action or statement, of an individual, or organisation.
6. How to make a Protected Disclosure
A protected disclosure may be made to the FSAI by:
Phone: 01-8171300 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
or, in writing to:
Food Safety Authority of Ireland,
Georges Dock, IFSC,
- In the interests of clarity and to avoid misinterpretation or misunderstanding it is preferable that a protected disclosure be made in writing.
- A protected disclosure may be made verbally, in which case the recipient of the information will where possible confirm the details of the disclosure, in writing, to the discloser without undue delay.
- It is recommended that, at a minimum, a disclosure should include the following details:
I. state that the disclosure is being made under the Act; ii. the discloser’s name, position in the organisation, place of work and confidential contact details;
1. the date of the alleged wrongdoing (if known) or the date the alleged wrongdoing commenced or was identified;
2. whether or not the alleged wrongdoing is believed to be still ongoing;
3. whether the alleged wrongdoing has already been disclosed and if so, to whom, when, and what action was taken;
4. factual information in respect of the specific nature of the alleged wrongdoing; what is occurring/has occurred and how, together with any supporting information or data;
5. any other relevant information.
A protected disclosure may be made anonymously and will be acted on to the extent that is possible. However, important elements of the Protected Disclosures act, 2014 may be impossible to apply in such circumstances. Furthermore, as a worker you will not be able to obtain redress under the act without identifying yourself.
It is advisable to obtain advice before making a protected disclosure, whether from a legal adviser or trade union representative or both. The Protected Disclosures Act, 2014 provides that such disclosures of information for the purposes of obtaining advice are in themselves, protected disclosures.