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Food Safety and its Importance

11 August 2023

Food safety and its importance matter for many, but mostly two ‘main’ reasons:

  • The most important reason of ensuring food safety is that no one should be made ill by the food they eat. Good food practices, supported and guided by law, will ensure protection for becoming ill due to unsafe food.
  • The other reason is that providing customers with quality and safe food keep them coming back. This is undoubtedly good for business.


What is Food

There are many various definitions of what food is, but for the purposes of catering, food may be defined as:

Any substance or product, whether processed, partially processed or unprocessed, that is intended to be, or reasonably expected to be, ingested by humans.

Therefore food is not only meal such as, burgers, steaks, salads, etc. Food includes drink, chewing gum, sweets, condiments, ice, flavourings and any substance, including water, intentionally incorporated into food during its manufacture, preparation or treatment.


Food Poisoning

Food safety and its importance can often by undervalued. But ignoring it might have series consequences. If food safety practices and handling standards are poor, food may become contaminated. This might result in people who consume said food to become ill. In extreme cases, food poisoning can be fatal.

If an incidence of food poisoning is traced back to particular business, both, the owner of food premises and an employee who was deemed negligent in preparing/serving the meal could be found liable. They could be prosecuted, and possibly fined, imprisoned, or have their business closed down. At the very least, it will most likely result in loss of customers.

Establishing good practices with regard to food safety will keep both customers and staff safe, and be good for business.


The Symptoms of Food Poisoning

Food poisoning is an unpleasant illness which usually occurs within 1 to 72 hours of eating contaminated or poisonous food. Symptoms can be various and can include abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhoea and vomiting as the body seeks to remove the poisons and prevent damage to the vital organs. The condition can last usually from 1 to 7 days, but can last longer. Other symptoms that suggest a case of food poisoning is particularly serious and requires medical attention include passing blood, either by vomiting or in diarrhoea, slurred speech, blurred vision, or mental confusion.

Identifying the source of the poisoning is necessary, but not always straightforward. This is because the illness might not have been caused by the last food to be eaten.



Catering businesses can make a huge difference by following procedures and practices that promote food safety. It doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, simple systems and rules work best as people find them easier to remember and stick to. All of the procedures and practices together form what is known as Food Safety Management System. You can read more about it in our blog entry from 5th May 2023 titled Food Safety Management System (FSMS).

The Food safety Authority of Ireland is a statutory body with main function to ensure that food produced, distributed or marketed in Ireland meets the highest standards of food safety and hygiene reasonably available and to ensure that food complies with legal requirements and recognised codes of good practice.

Food legislation is enforced on behalf of the FSAI by a network of official agencies working under service contract to the FSAI.


Enforcement of Food Safety Standards

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland Act, 1998 contains enforcement provisions which are in addition to the powers to prosecute and other provisions on specific pieces of food legislation. The provisions in the FSAI Act provide a means of reacting to and dealing with situations posing a risk to public health.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland has the power to carry out the following in order to determine compliance with food legislation:

  • The inspection, approval, licensing or registration of premises and equipment, including premises or equipment used in connection with the manufacture, processing, disposal, transport and storage of food.
  • The inspection, sampling, and analysis of food and food including food ingredients.
  • The inspection and analysis of food labelling.

In July 2023 the FSAI issued ten Enforcement Orders served on food businesses. Commenting, Dr Pamela Byrne, Chief Executive, FSAI, said that while the majority of food businesses adhere to food safety regulations, it is clear that some businesses are not fully compliant. Dr. Byrne continued ”  …  All food businesses, from the established to the newly opened, must fully adhere with food safety regulations at all times. Enforcement action will be taken for transgressions, in the interest of public health protection.”.


Online Food Safety Training

Please remember – it is a legal requirement that staff who are involved in a food environment are trained and/or supervised commensurate with their work activity!

Myelearnsafety offers fully online Food Safety (HACCP) courses.

To find out more, please check our Courses page.

Alternatively, should you need any additional information, please do not hesitate to let us know via email