A food business in the Republic of Ireland has been convicted of violating food safety rules.

O Cathain Iasc Teoranta based in the town of Dingle, in the county of Kerry, was found to have breached food safety law and bluefin tuna regulations and was fined €5,250 ($5,800).

The verdict, made in late April at Dingle District Court, followed a prosecution taken by the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) and the Director of Public Prosecutions.  

SFPA is the agency responsible for the enforcement of food law in the seafood sector up to the point of retail.

The company pleaded guilty to charges of breaking food safety legislation including the placing of unsafe bluefin tuna products on the market, failure to comply with food hygiene requirements, and failures to ensure temperature control of bluefin tuna products. 

They also admitted to breaching food traceability rules and certain bluefin tuna traceability requirements.

The case arose after an unannounced inspection of the firm’s premises in March 2021, which resulted in bluefin tuna products being stopped from being sent to retail.

“The SFPA notes the convictions for these serious breaches of food safety law and fisheries law. Compliance with food safety law, and consistent implementation of food safety management systems, is crucial for the protection of consumer health and confidence in the seafood sector. This case was particularly serious due to the discovery of bluefin tuna without the required traceability information,” said an SFPA spokesperson.

Quarterly enforcement figures
SFPA also served 10 enforcement notices on seafood businesses during the final quarter of 2022 for breaches of food safety legislation.

These included seven compliance notices, two improvement notices, and one fixed payment notice.

The action was taken by SFPA officers during risk-based official controls. Officers carried out 60 inspections in the fourth quarter of 2022 in land-based establishments.

In one case, Castletownbere Fishermen’s Co-op Society pleaded guilty to food safety offenses, after an inspection conducted in October 2021. This was related to the condition of parts of the food premises, failure to ensure pest control and protection against contamination, and failure to comply with procedures on traceability of raw fishery products. The defendant was fined €2,000 ($2,200) and ordered to pay costs.

Paschal Hayes, the SFPA executive chairperson, said: “Protecting seafood safety is a central element of our remit as an authority. The low level of non-compliance found illustrates the considerable efforts being made by seafood businesses to work within the regulations, as well as the robust inspection system in place to assure and, where necessary, to enforce compliance.”

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