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Food Safety Authority

Here's where the dirtiest restaurants and takeaways were in Ireland in 2020

The FSAI issued less than half of the enforcement orders last year that it issued in 2019.

THE NUMBER OF takeaways and restaurants shut down in Ireland fell significantly last year, with the hospitality sector closed down for much of 2020. 

Nevertheless, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) still issued 42 enforcement orders last year. 

It ordered premises to shut in nine counties, with Dublin having the most, followed by Louth and Cork. 

The reasons ranged from unclean environments, to the absence of safe practices when handling raw fish, to evidence of extensive rodent activity.

In terms of takeaways, restaurants and cafes, the number of enforcement orders issued last year was down sharply compared to recent years. 

In one recent case, the FSAI ordered the shut down of three sushi restaurants operating from the bedroom of a Dublin house

The figure of 42 enforcement orders is much lower than previous years. The FSAI said that it had issued 124 enforcement for the whole of 2019. A further 66 were issued in 2018 and 62 in 2017. 

These closure orders are a small fraction of the amount of the premises actually inspected. The HSE (which holds the contract from the Food Safety Authority of Ireland for inspecting public-facing businesses like restaurants) has inspected over 28,000 establishments in the years of the five years up to 2019. 

Here are the counties where the most enforcement orders (most of which were closure orders) were issued to takeaways and restaurants last year:

Dublin – 9

Cork – 4

Louth – 4

Waterford – 2

Laois – 2

Mayo – 1

Sligo – 1

Limerick – 1

Roscommon – 1

FSAI chief executive Dr Pamela Byrne said that the fall in the number of enforcement orders issued last year was not something to be wholly welcomed.

She said: “While in a normal year it would be very encouraging to see such a substantial drop in the need for Enforcement Orders, in 2020, however it is likely that most of the reduction reflects the temporary closure of food businesses for many months due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Notwithstanding this, 42 Enforcement Orders are still too many, as it shows that, unfortunately, there continues to be a minority of food businesses not complying with their legal requirements. All food businesses must recognise that they are legally bound to ensure that the food they produce is safe to eat. Consumers have a right to safe food. Food businesses must comply with food law and all breaches of food safety legislation will be dealt with to the full extent of the law.

Under the FSAI Act 1998, a closure order is served where it is deemed that there is or there is likely to be a grave and immediate danger to public health at or in the premises; or where an improvement order is not complied with.

Closure orders can refer to the immediate closure of all or part of the food premises, or all or some of its activities, but can be lifted once a food premises is found to be compliant.

When such orders are served, the offending premises must take action to rectify the problems highlighted before being granted permission to resume trading. 

If it is lifted, the business has its record scrubbed from the FSAI’s website after three months.

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