Food Business Operator Obligations when non Compliant Food or Food Potentially Injurious to Human Health is Identified
Key responsibilities for all Food Business Operators set out in food law include placing safe food on the market, having procedures based on HACCP principles, adequately labelling product, maintaining traceability (one step forward and one step back) and withdrawing potentially unsafe food from the market (Regulation 178/2002 laying down the principles and requirements of food law).
Action required on identifying non compliant food or food potentially injurious to human health:
For Food Business Operators supervised by the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA), the following applies:
- If a Food Business Operator considers or has reason to believe that a fishery or aquaculture product which it has imported, produced, processed, or distributed is not in compliance with the food safety requirements or may be injurious to human health, and the product has left the control of the Food Business Operator, procedures must be immediately initiated to withdraw the food in question from the market in accordance with the business’s Food Safety Management System.
- If the product has been supplied to the final consumer via retail, the product must be recalled and the final consumer notified.
- The SFPA must also be informed. During a withdrawal or recall, the Food Business Operator will be required to fully co-operate with the SFPA and, as necessary, with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI).
To ensure efficient and timely withdrawal /recall of a non compliant product or product which may be injurious to human health, a Food Business Operator must have detailed contact details of each customer including their full address. This information must be made available to the SFPA. In accordance with the rules on traceability, it is not, however, necessary to maintain addresses of final consumers supplied via retail. Copies of any withdrawal notifications and public recall notices (Point of Sale Notices) must also be provided to the SFPA.
Food Business Operators must consider what went wrong (i.e. investigate the cause) and, as appropriate, take action to prevent reoccurrence. The SFPA may require additional information or may carry out an inspection to verify that remedial action has been put in place. If deemed necessary, enforcement action may be taken. In undertaking any enforcement action the SFPA always strives to operate in a consistent, proportionate and transparent manner.