Here's what Irish food businesses worry about the most when they're preparing your food
Straight from the kitchen.
In terms of a food regulatory perspective, research has showed that Irish food businesses are primarily concerned with food allergens and ingredients labelling.
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has revealed that these are the two main factors that restaurants and food business are worried about in relation to Irish consumers.
The research surveyed senior executives from a diverse range of food businesses and asked them to discuss their concerns about food safety and the food industry’s current operating environment.
The research showed 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, despite this increased confidence, numerous food safety concerns remain for food businesses.
The largest worry that the food industry has is in relation to how allergens and ingredients are labelled, with over half (53%) listing it as one of their top three concerns.
Food hygiene and handling requirements are also an issue of concern with 36% of those interviewed raising concerns on this topic. Elsewhere, some food businesses expressed worries about the use of hormones, pesticides, antibiotics and additives (30%) in various foods.
There is a strong confidence in food safety measures within the industry, however, around one fifth (18%) are calling for more food safety regulation and enforcement.
On that note, 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.
Dr Pamela Byrne, CEO, FSAI has called on food businesses to address the safety issues that have been highlighted in the survey.
“We would encourage food businesses who feel they lack adequate food safety information to contact the FSAI for more guidance and instructions," she said.
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.
Dr Byrne adds:
"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.”
In terms of employment levels, almost seven in 10 (69%) of those Irish food businesses surveyed also 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.
Food businesses are particularly concerned about increases in costs of supplies, tariffs and exchange rates in respect of Brexit on the Irish food industry.