Unregistered Irish food businesses more than doubled last year
17 tonnes of unfit or unsafe food were taken off the market in Ireland.
Investigations into unregistered food businesses have more than doubled in one year, according to the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI).
Probes were carried out into 47 unregistered food businesses in 2020, compared to 19 in 2019.
18 of the 47 businesses were selling meat, while others were producing, processing or distributing foods such as baked goods, eggs and ready-to-eat sushi products.
The FSAI say these unregistered food businesses were operating illegally without the knowledge or supervision of the competent authorities.
Some were set up in domestic kitchens or private dwellings with inadequate food safety processes, procedures and facilities in place because of the temporary closure of the food business the people were employed in due to Covid restrictions.
Food law requires all food businesses to be notified to the relevant competent authority no matter the size or type of food business, prior to operating.
This is to ensure food businesses are registered and approved by the appropriate inspection agency, so that the food is safe to eat for customers.
In 2020, five closure orders, five compliance notices and three prohibition orders were served on unregistered or unapproved food businesses.
In addition, two warrants were obtained to gain access to unregistered food businesses running their business from a domestic dwelling.
These investigations resulted in 17 tonnes of unfit or unsafe food being taken off the market in Ireland.
FSAI Chief Executive Dr Pamela Byrne said in a statement: "It is very concerning to see an increase in the number of unregistered food businesses found to be operating in 2020.
"There is no doubt that Covid-19 has presented many challenges for the food industry and for people working in the sector, however, this does not change the legal requirements which are in place to protect consumer health.
"All food business owners, big or small, whether trading from a business premises, in the home, from a mobile unit, food truck and/or online, must be aware of food hygiene and food safety legislation.
"It is totally unacceptable that some food businesses are choosing to operate outside of the law."
She added: "Many of these unregistered food businesses are using social media platforms such as Facebook, Facebook Marketplace, Adverts.ie, Done Deal and Instagram to advertise the sale and supply of their food products, and WhatsApp is also used by some for receiving orders.
"The FSAI and the food inspectors continue to monitor these sites and will take appropriate action, if unregistered food businesses are discovered."