The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) today revealed national attitudinal research that shows from a food regulatory perspective, food allergens and ingredients labelling is the number one concern for Irish food businesses.
The research surveyed senior executives from a diverse range of food businesses on their concerns about food safety and the food industry’s current operating environment.
"While the majority of food businesses acknowledge their own responsibility for ensuring the food they serve is safe to eat, it is unacceptable that over 1 in 10 see this as the responsibility of the FSAI, which it is not – the responsibility lies with food businesses," warned Dr Pamela Byrne, CEO, FSAI
"The consequences of allergen information not being provided and food hygiene standards not being adhered to are very serious and the FSAI, together with the food inspectorate, is continuously working to ensure that businesses are not flaunting these requirements.”
The report indicated that the food industry is apprehensive about allergens and ingredients labelling; food hygiene and handling requirements; and other widely noted food safety concerns including the use of hormones, pesticides, antibiotics and additives.
· Allergens and ingredients labelling comes out on top as the greatest food safety worry for Irish food businesses, with over half (53%) listing it as one of their top three concerns.
· Food hygiene and handling requirements (36%) and carcinogenic chemicals in foods (30%) also ranked highly amongst those surveyed.
· There is a strong confidence in food safety measures among the industry, however, around one fifth (18%) are calling for more food safety regulation and enforcement.
· Around one third (31%) of food businesses do not feel well enough informed in terms of food safety information, despite a high proportion claiming to cover this in-house or via consultants.
Some 7 in 10 (69%) of Irish food businesses view the availability of skilled workers as a serious concern. This reflects the large decrease in unemployment as the economy has gradually recovered and moved towards full employment in recent years, reducing the pool of workers available to food businesses.
Brexit is the second greatest future worry for food businesses, with over two thirds (67%) identifying its unknown impact as a business concern, the report showed.
According to the research, food businesses are particularly concerned about increases in costs of supplies, tariffs and exchange rates in respect of Brexit on the Irish food industry:
· Nearly 8 out of 10 (78%) businesses think Brexit may increase the cost of supplies
· Almost three quarters (74%) of businesses fear tariffs could increase costs
· A large majority (68%) are wary that volatile exchange rates could impact on business
“Our research shows that difficulties in attracting skilled staff and increased regulations and taxes are among the perceived threats that food businesses are citing," Dr Byrne, highlighted, "the research informs regulatory and policy decisions. At the same time, the final outcome of Brexit is still not yet known almost three years since the referendum took place, and this is also concerning food businesses here.”
© 2019 Checkout – your source for the latest Irish retail news. Article by Donna Ahern. Click sign-up to subscribe to Checkout.