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Audit of Multiple Retailers Published

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

The FSAI today publishes its Audit of Multiple Retailers, which focused on the effective management of food incidents by multiple retailers at national and local level. The FSAI has overall responsibility for the enforcement of food law in Ireland. It carries out targeted audits of food businesses to determine the level of compliance with current food law and the effectiveness of its implementation.

Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 requires that food business operators (FBOs) satisfy themselves that all food under their control, at all stages of production, processing and distribution, meets the requirements of food law, and that food is not placed on the market if it is unsafe, i.e. injurious to health or unfit for human consumption. Where an FBO identifies that a food it has placed on the market is not in compliance with the requirements of food law, then it must immediately take action to withdraw the food from the market and inform the competent authorities. In cases where the product may have reached the final consumer, the FBO must effectively and accurately inform consumers of the reason for the recall of the product from the market.

The objectives of the audit were to assess how the multiple retailers manage food incidents, including recalls and withdrawals, in accordance with food law; to verify that the multiple retailers effectively communicate with, and disseminate information to, their stores and distribution centres, and where necessary, to other food businesses, consumers and competent authorities; and to examine what checks the multiple retailers request from the suppliers of their own-brand products to verify compliance with food law; for example, microbiological, chemical, authenticity. To confirm that appropriate and effective action has been taken by the supplier and the multiple retailers when the result of testing is unsatisfactory.

In summary, at store level, six of the 14 (43%) stores from three FBOs visited had 20 findings between them that required corrective action to address issues identified during the audit. Eight stores (57%) had no findings and were found to be compliant with the requirements of Regulation (EC) No 178/2002. Significantly, four of these six stores with findings had no procedures in place to effectively deal with the withdrawal or recall of a “locally” supplied food*. Two of these six stores had no procedures in place to inform the competent authorities of a recall of a locally supplied product, and one store was not aware of its legal requirement regarding informing consumers of the recall of product (for example, by displaying a point-of-sale notice informing consumers of a product recall and the reason for it).

Following audits in which non-compliances with legal requirements were identified, the FBO was informed of these non-compliances and was required to implement corrective actions which were reviewed for close-out by the supervising official agency.



*A 'local' supplier is one that enters into a contractual agreement with an individual store or stores in a locality to supply food products which they produce. This local supply chain is separate and distinct from the central supply and distribution chain operated by many of the multiple retailers.