Survey finds allergy and ingredients labelling is top worry for Irish food businesses

Survey finds allergy and ingredients labelling is top worry for Irish food businesses

Food allergens and ingredients labelling is the number one concern for Irish food businesses.

New research from the Food Safety Authority found other big issues, including the use of hormones, pesticides and additives.

Brexit is the second greatest worry, with over two-thirds saying its unknown impact is a concern.

Food businesses are particularly worried about increases in costs of supplies, tariffs and exchange rates.

Senior executives from a range of food businesses were polled on their concerns about food safety and the food industry's current operating environment.

The research shows that more than seven out of 10 food businesses are increasingly confident about food safety regulation in Ireland, with almost three quarters (73%) stating that food produced in Ireland is safer than it was five years ago.

However, as well as allergens and ingredients labelling, the industry is apprehensive about food hygiene and handling requirements.

Allergens and ingredients labelling comes out on top as the greatest worry for Irish food businesses, with 53% listing it as one of their top three concerns.

Food hygiene and handling requirements (36%) and carcinogenic chemicals in foods (30%) also ranked high.

While there is a strong confidence in food safety measures, around one-fifth (18%) are calling for more food safety regulation and enforcement.

While one-third (31%) of food businesses do not feel well enough informed in terms of food safety information.

This is despite a high proportion claiming to cover this in-house or through consultants.

Some seven in 10 (69%) of Irish food businesses view the availability of skilled workers as a serious concern.

The FSAI says this reflects a 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, with over two-thirds (67%) identifying its unknown impact as a business concern.

Food businesses are particularly concerned about increases in costs of supplies, tariffs and exchange rates in respect of Brexit on the Irish food industry.

Dr Pamela Byrne is CEO of the FSAI: "We would encourage food businesses who feel they lack adequate food safety information to contact the FSAI for more guidance and instructions.

"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 one in 10 see this as the responsibility of the FSAI, which it is not - the responsibility lies with food businesses.

"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 national attitudinal research was undertaken by Amárach and involved interviews with over 200 food businesses across a range of national and international food business SMEs.

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