Ahead of the inaugural World Food Safety Day on Friday 7 June, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed, T.D. and the Minister for Health Simon Harris,T.D. have come together with agencies, industry, retailers and farmers to launch a food safety information campaign aimed at consumers, highlighting the collaboration that is required from farm to fork to protect food safety.
Launching the campaign, Minister Creed stated, “World Food Safety Day is a great opportunity to reflect on the world-class food safety systems that are in place in Ireland. These help to ensure that the food we produce is safe, authentic and traceable. The high standards to which we hold ourselves in Ireland are recognised both by consumers here in Ireland and in the many countries worldwide in which Irish food and drinks products are consumed and enjoyed.’’
The theme of World Food Safety Day 2019 is Food Safety, everyone’s business. All actors in the food chain, from farm to table, whether they produce, process, sell or prepare food, have a role in keeping it safe. Farmers, processors and business operators must adopt good practices to ensure that the potential risks to food safety are properly addressed.
Minister Creed said ‘’My Department, the Department of Health, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI), HSE and Local Authorities work tirelessly to control food safety risks along the food chain, through direct and indirect oversight, and also by fostering collaboration among stakeholders. Promoting and safeguarding public health is a strategic priority for my Department, with over 600 staff members directly involved in food safety and food authenticity controls. The Food Safety, and Food Authenticity Strategy, which I launched last year, sets out the vision and objectives that my Department, in consultation with regulatory partners, will pursue as the food industry continues to implement Food Wise 2025”.
The Minister concluded by noting that this year’s campaign is directed at consumers, stating that “consumers play a significant role, both by taking appropriate precautions when preparing food and by ensuring that they keep themselves informed about the food they eat.”
Minister Harris said, “Food safety is of paramount importance to the health and well-being of people in Ireland and further afield. A food supply that is adequate in quantity, quality, accessibility and safety is undoubtedly a prerequisite for achieving and maintaining the health of Ireland’s population. When food safety is not taken seriously, it not only significantly affects health and well-being but also has economic consequences for individuals, families, communities, businesses and countries and can impose a substantial burden on healthcare systems and markedly reduce economic productivity”.
Minister Harris went on to say: “Whilst primary responsibility for food safety rests with food business operators, it is important that we all work together to create public confidence in the safety of our food. Food safety awareness, enforcement, information, support and assistance is the task of many different players, and I would wish to pay tribute to the many who play such a vital role in providing the best food safety controls to protect consumers, including the Food Safety Authority of Ireland and its service contract agencies, such as the HSE’s Environmental Health Service, the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine, Food Control Laboratories, the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority and the County and City Councils. I would also wish to acknowledge Safefood as the body with an over-arching role on the island of Ireland in relation to the promotion of food safety and particularly for its role in this year’s ‘Never wash raw chicken’ campaign”.
Minister Harris finished by emphasising: “It is important that Ireland’s good reputation for food safety is maintained, and where possible built on because every citizen expects and deserves safe and trustworthy food.”
Dr. Pamela Byrne, Chief Executive, FSAI stated: “With almost 50,000 food businesses in Ireland each and everyone has a legal responsibility to ensure that the food they provide to consumers is as safe as possible. Notwithstanding that and effective controls taken at industry level to reduce harmful bugs, there is always a risk they can occur. This World Food Safety Day message, never wash raw chicken is a further layer of protection that consumers can take to ensure in particular that the prevalence of Campylobacter and other harmful bugs are reduced when preparing chicken in the home. The FSAI was one of Europe’s first food safety regulators – now every country has one which provides an international network for sharing science and knowledge. This collaboration is of immense benefit not just today but indeed every day where shared experience and scientific knowledge underpins our deliberations and policies that ultimately protect consumer health. It is notable that such is the importance of food safety to consumer health that it now has a designated World Food Safety Day, we continue to be determined as the regulatory agency charged with protecting consumers that the food supply chain continues to be guarded and policed for compliance. We welcome information campaigns that further advocate best practice so the public can take measures to further protect themselves from the foodborne pathogens or bugs that can cause illness.”
Ray Dolan, CEO, safefood said “Chicken is such a healthy, versatile and popular food – 8 out of 10 adults eat it every week. But washing raw chicken does the complete opposite to cleaning it and can spread food poisoning germs around your kitchen. Because that spray can reach up to 80cm, or about an arm’s length away from your sink, safefood are reminding people to never wash raw chicken. If you do, you can spread these germs into the ‘splash zone’ of things that are near your sink like clean dishes drying, a baby’s bottle or ready-to-eat foods like fruit, which could be putting you and yours at risk of food poisoning. Cooking chicken properly gets rid of all the germs anyway, so washing it doesn’t really do any good. In fact, it might actually cause you some harm.”