The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has launched a new five year strategy, aimed at protecting consumers of Irish food both domestically and internationally.

The strategy was launched at a stakeholder event hosted at the Science Gallery, Dublin, where the FSAI also announced a new partnership as part of its 20 year commemorations.

The Strategy 2019-2023 paper sets out a clear roadmap with benchmarks for achievement to further protect consumers of Irish food here and abroad. It identifies four key areas of activity, namely; enforcement and compliance, science expertise and evidence, communication and engagement, and organisational excellence.

As part of the launch, the FSAI revealed new research giving an insight into consumer perceptions of food safety. Overall, there is confidence in the safety of Irish food with nine out of ten people (89%) saying food is as safe or safer than it was five years ago. Nearly half of the Irish population (45%) do not pay full attention to ‘use-by’ dates, with seven out of ten people (72%) claiming that they have used food past its ‘use-by’ date.

A growing reliance on convenience food is also apparent, with eight out of ten people (84%) stating that they buy ready-to-eat or pre-prepared food from the supermarket, with over one third (36%) buying at least weekly or more frequently. Over one in ten people use fast food chains or independent takeaways at least weekly (16% and 17% respectively).

The FSAI was formerly established in 1999 and was, at that time, the first food safety authority in Europe, operating under the Department of Health. Over the past 20 years, other member states have emulated the FSAI’s model and established similar authorities. The FSAI is an active participant at EU level both in terms of engaging and in terms of providing advice via the European Food Safety Authority, as well as being involved in an EU-wide rapid alert system for monitoring, notifying and reacting swiftly to food safety issues.

Minister of State with responsibility for Health Promotion, Catherine Byrne T.D., said: “2019 marks twenty years of tireless work by the FSAI in promoting food safety and protecting public health. I am confident that through their new five year strategy, they will continue to build on this work, protecting the consumer and strengthening Ireland’s position as a leader in food safety and integrity.”

According to Dr Pamela Byrne, CEO, FSAI, the research undertaken will assist to inform and feed into wider thinking of its corporate strategy and enable it to verify its overall objectives and timing of actions.

“Our new strategy set outs the FSAI’s direction over the next five years to continue to be an effective state agency putting consumer health protection at the centre of all our activities. It incorporates a modern approach using collaboration with our partners, along with the best available science and evidence to deliver robust, proportionate and fair enforcement of the regulations,” she said.

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