Importance of EHO/HSE inspections for Food Safety

In Ireland, there are different agencies involved in monitoring and holding the food industry responsible for food safety and management.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) employs Environmental Health Officers (EHO) to inspect and monitor food businesses in which food is manufactured or sold. There is a registry for EHO’s on the HSE website so your local officer can be easily located.

Inspections by an independent authority are important as they ensure that food law is being fulfilled by food businesses throughout the production and sale of foods. It is the law to have safe and controlled environments for the production and sale of food for consumption. Food businesses are therefore subject to compliance checks which is a large part of what the EHO inspections are.

While every business functions slightly differently, the same laws apply to them all. However, many aspects of a food business is taken into account during these inspections such as risk assessments the business may have accounted for, how reliable their systems and general compliance has been as a whole, and any ongoing non-conformances already flagged.

EHO’s and inspections prioritise high risk businesses or businesses that have areas of major non-compliances already identified. Repeat inspections, enforcement orders and closure orders can all come from major non-compliances being identified during the EHO’s checks and if little to no action is completed by the food business to rectify any non-conformances, then closure is the eventual route.

Food business operators are responsible for ensuring that the requirements of food law are met within their businesses, including identifying food hazards and controlling risks and only placing safe food on the market. Businesses can be fined and closed if these legal requirements are not sufficiently met.

Food safety includes everything from good personal hygiene, ensuring critical control limits are maintained, washing hands, keeping work areas clean, understanding issues of cross-contamination and allergens and more. EHO’s check all of these areas and more during their inspections and look back on documentation and records to ensure that food safety is being continuously monitored and implemented to the highest standard possible.

Inspections are paramount for food business to be aware of and ready for and they keep food businesses as a whole aiming for the best food safety standards and seeking continuous improvement. Many businesses use food safety consultancy services such as The Food Safety Company to conduct regular audits in between EHO visits so they are suitably prepared and ready for an inspection at any time. This shows a food business is investing in food safety and culture and are actively seeking to create as safe an environment for food creation as possible.

Get in contact with the Food Safety Company today to get your own bespoke quote to ensure your business is ready for inspection at all times.