Wednesday, 2 March 2005
Dáil Eireann Debate
Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children (Mr. S. Power): In Ireland responsibility for food safety is shared across a number of Departments and agencies. For example, the Department of Agriculture and Food is responsible for policy matters in relation to food of animal origin while the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources is responsible for policy aspects of fishing and aquaculture. My Department has policy responsibility for food safety in retail and catering establishments, and in plants manufacturing foods of non-animal origin.
In January 1999 the Food Safety Authority of Ireland was established as a statutory, independent and science-based body operating under the aegis of my Department. Its principal function is to take all reasonable steps to ensure that food produced, distributed or marketed in the State meets the highest standards of food safety and in particular to ensure that such food complies with food legislation and where appropriate with recognised codes of good practice. The authority carries out its enforcement functions through service contracts with official agencies. These contracts outline an agreed level and standard of food safety activity that the agencies perform as agents of the authority. The authority has service contracts with county councils and city councils, the Health Service Executive — formerly the health boards, the Department of Agriculture and Food, the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, the Office of the Director of Consumer Affairs and the Marine Institute. In addition, the authority has memorandums of understanding in place with the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland and the Customs and Excise service.
I am satisfied that the food safety structures in place have delivered a high level of consumer protection and confidence in the safety of food produced and marketed in this country. However, this matter is reviewed on an ongoing basis — particularly in the light of developments at EU level.
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