As part of the implementation of the general plan for crisis management under Article 55 of Regulation (EC) No 178/2002, Article 115 of Regulation (EU) No. 2017/625 requires that member states draw up contingency plans for food, setting out measures to be applied without delay when food is found to pose a serious risk to human health either directly or through the environment.
The FSAI Food Incident & Crisis Management Plan
The FSAI have developed a Food Incident and Crisis Management Plan, which is available to all FSAI staff through the FSAI’s intranet.
The purpose of this plan is to:
define a food incident and a food crisis
categorise food incidents
set out the overarching framework for managing food incidents and food crises
set out the FSAI out of hours arrangements
set out how the FSAI will fulfil its obligations under the Inter-Agency Protocol for the Management of a Food Crisis
set out the roles and responsibilities within FSAI to support the FSAI in the event of a food crisis
outline regular review
The Crisis Management Team Coordinator is responsible for maintaining the plan as an operational structure and ensuring that it remains relevant, and that all information is kept up-to-date. All FSAI staff have been informed of the existence and purpose of the plan. Those involved in the plan have received training to familiarise them with the contents of the plan and arrangements in the plan.
The FSAI crisis management plan links to the contingency plans in the relevant competent authorities. It is a requirement in the service contracts of the competent authorities, in conjunction with the FSAI, that there are contingency plans in place at appropriate levels for dealing with food related crises and incidents. As part of these plans, the Official Agency will provide the Authority with contact points for both office hours and out of office hours contact for emergency and crisis situations.
The Inter-Agency Protocol for the Management of a Food Crisis
The aim of the Inter-Agency Protocol for the Management of a Food Crisis is to define the structures and arrangements for inter-agency coordination, communication and operation during the response to a food crisis or potential crisis of national or international significance.
Under this protocol the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) acts as the lead agency in the event of a foodcrisis, and as such is the agency through which information is collated and disseminated to others. This ensures that there is a central repository for monitoring and updating the situation during the response and communicating this to all relevant parties so that individual agencies can operate on the basis of the most up-to-date information.
The scope of the Inter-Agency Protocol is for use by all official agencies with a role in food incident management and food crises. This protocol has been circulated to key personnel in the relevant agencies.
Code of Practice No.5 – Food Incidents & Alerts
Food incidents and alerts are managed by the FSAI in conjunction with the relevant competent authorities in accordance with the FSAI’s Code of Practice No. 5 – Food Incidents and Food Alerts, which is publicly available on the FSAI website.
The aim of this Code of Practice is to set out the arrangements for the responsibility of managing food incidents at local and national level involving food hazards as identified by food businesses, official agencies or other Member States and the associated communications. The objective of this is to have a co-ordinated approach to ensure that food products identified as being a risk to consumers are controlled or removed from the food chain. Food incidents/alerts are dealt with, by the FSAI or the competent authorities, in accordance with this COP.
Management of Outbreaks of Foodborne Illness
The investigation and control of foodborne outbreaks is a multi-disciplinary task requiring skills in the areas of public health medicine, environmental health, epidemiology, clinical microbiology, food microbiology and chemistry, food safety and food control, and risk communication and management. Outbreaks of foodborne disease require swift and effective investigations.
The competent authorities’ service contracts state that the competent authorities shall implement the agreed protocol(s) to manage and deal effectively with foodborne outbreaks, in particular the guidance on Management of Outbreaks of Foodborne Illness (revision 1). This document guides the multi-disciplinary approach to the investigation of foodborne outbreaks in Ireland and has been agreed by all agencies involved in this work. The aim of the document is to provide best practice guidance for the cross-agency, multidisciplinary teams who manage the investigation and control of foodborne disease outbreaks in Ireland.
The objectives of this guidance are to:
provide a practical resource for professionals involved in the management of illness which are or possible are foodborne.
provide a standardised approach to the management of foodborne outbreaks in Ireland
provide a structure for outbreak preparedness at a local and national level
define the roles of those involved in an outbreak control team
provide a format for dissemination of lessons learned
Competent Authorities Contingency Plans
Below are summaries of each CA’s contingency plans. For more detailed information please refer directly to the organisation concerned.
The Marine Institute
The MI Fish Health Unit has developed a multi-agency contingency plan for responding to outbreaks of listed diseases of fish in Regulation EU 2016/429.
The MI also operates a Business Continuity Plan and Corporate Risk Register that provides an overview of all eventualities in relation to the Marine Environment and Food Safety Services (MEFSS) operations.