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FSAI Finds Non-Compliance in Several Food Businesses During Audit of Meat Labelling and Traceability

Tuesday, 31 May 2022

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) today published an audit which found a level of non-compliance with food law and subsequently led to ten formal enforcement actions being undertaken. The FSAI’s Audit of Food Business Operator Compliance with Meat Labelling and Traceability Requirements evaluated a representative sample of food businesses including supermarkets; butchers; food service establishments; storage and distribution establishments; meat processing plants; and slaughterhouses and their compliance with meat labelling and traceability requirements. The audit reviewed the availability, accuracy and appropriateness of information provided on labels and information for non-prepacked meat products.

A total of 27 unannounced, on-site audits were conducted on food businesses with a particular emphasis on checking compliance with meat labelling and traceability requirements. Key results from the report include:

  • Non-compliance with labelling requirements for prepacked food was detected in 18 of the establishments audited and 5 of these establishments had serious non-compliance.
  • Non-compliance with food information requirements for non-prepacked foods (in retail and foodservice settings) was detected during audits of five establishments. One of these five establishments had a serious non-compliance.
  • Non-compliance with traceability requirements was detected during audits of ten establishments. Five of these ten establishments had serious non-compliance.

Non-compliance with other aspects of food law, outside the planned scope of the audit, was also detected during audits of 17 of the establishments. At 14 of these 17 establishments, the non-compliance was considered serious. Corrective action reports have been issued to all the food businesses where non-compliance was detected.

Good practices were noted at some businesses during the audit, including routine DNA speciation testing, the elective use of short supply chains for meat ingredients and retention of digital records of labels, commercial documents and traceability records.

The audit led to ten formal enforcement actions by the food inspectorate or the FSAI against six food business operators. Some 14 recommendations were also made to strengthen compliance with food law, including instructing businesses to ensure that foods are labelled accurately. Another recommendation advised that compliance with traceability requirements should be improved and that food businesses should avail of the resources to assist them. It was also advised that food businesses minimise food waste by considering whether a ‘use-by’ date or ‘best before’ date should be applied to labels of prepacked frozen foods.

Speaking today, Dr Pamela Byrne, Chief Executive, FSAI, reminded food businesses that ensuring labelling and traceability legal requirements is key to safeguarding the health and interests of consumers.

    “While good practices were observed in some of the food businesses, disappointingly, this audit found that there was a varying degree of compliance by food businesses with meat labelling and traceability requirements. Fortunately, serious non-compliance with these requirements was confined to a small number of businesses. It is also disappointing that serious non-compliance outside the planned scope of the audit was observed at many of the businesses audited. Consumers have a right to safe food and their health and interests must be paramount to everything that food businesses do. We are continuing to work closely with the food inspectorate to explore opportunities to strengthen compliance with food law. We urge food businesses to ensure they are meeting their food safety legal requirements and they should also take full advantage of the information and support provided on our website www.fsai.ie.”

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. This targeted audit was carried out between August 2021 and March 2022.

Audit of Food Business Operator Compliance with Meat Labelling and Traceability Requirements