Euro-toques probe heavy food checks for producers

CHEFS and cooks have launched an investigation of disproportionate food safety requirements for small-scale producers. Through the Euro-toques organisation, they want information from primary and secondary food producers on food safety enforcement issues.

The organisation has established a food producer safety net council, comprising Myrtle Allen and Darina Allen of Ballymaloe House fame, Evan Doyle of Brooklodge in Wicklow, and Euro-toques Ireland secretary-general Ruth Hegarty.

They aim to build a database of food safety concerns and highlight where regulations have been applied disproportionately to food risks. Details of positive encounters with food safety authorities are also requested, in their bid to develop best practice guidelines.

They aim to identify the least expensive ways of complying with legal requirements, and to have these recognised by the authorities, while working on education of food safety authorities and enforcement officers, with regard to artisan food.

A legal expert will help the team to show where EU law allows for flexibility in food safety.

Many food producers have complained about the costs of compliance, and what they see as “unnecessary and avoidable duplication. They are not reimbursed for samples given up for testing, even if they form a considerable proportion of their product.

Some farmers who have food businesses are inspected more than 20 times per year.

According to Anthony Creswell of Ummera Smoked Products, Timoleague, Co Cork, “We spend a large amount of money getting identical tests done because the regulatory bodies require us to. It’s the duplication that adds to all our costs, duplication of tests, duplication of inspections”.

Because his business smokes meat and fish, it has inspections by the Department of Agriculture and the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority, both under the auspices of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.

“Why not just one inspectorate?” he asks.

To take part in the Euro-toques investigation, emnail to ruth@euro-toques.ie or call 01-6779995.


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