There are over a quarter of a million people employed in the food industry in Ireland which accounts for approximately 10% of the total workforce. The food industry is therefore very important to the Irish economy and provides a livelihood for many business owners and their employees.

The food industry is constantly evolving and part of this is the emergence of new food business and people from different business backgrounds moving into this industry. All food businesses from a small corner shop to a large supermarket, a domestic kitchen supplying to the local farmers market to a large manufacturer with worldwide distribution, must comply with relevant food safety legislation.

Starting a food business can be complex but one very important consideration is food safety and ensuring that as the food business operator you are making all reasonable efforts to comply with relevant food safety legislation. All food business must firstly be registered with the relevant competent authority. The competent authority will depend on your type of food business but will be either your local Environmental Health Section in the Health Service Executive, Department of Agriculture, Sea Fisheries Protection Authority or your Local Authority.

All food business must comply with the rules on general hygiene requirements in EC Regulation 852/2004. This regulation sets out requirements regarding both structural and operational hygiene in food premises. Regulation 852 also requires food businesses to develop and implement a food safety management system based on the principles of HACCP. The thought of developing and implementing a HACCP Plan can sometimes be quiet daunting, particularly for new food business operators. The first step in this process is to ensure that as the food business operator you have adequate knowledge and skills to implement a food safety management plan which is fit for purpose and can control the food safety hazards in your business. This is primarily achieved by ensuring that you and your staff are adequately trained.  The EHAI Primary Food Safety Level 2 Course is the market leader and has been developed by Environmental Health Officers.  The course provides food workers with the necessary practical skills and knowledge in food safety including the implementation of your HACCP procedure. The primary course will provide you and your staff with Level 2 skills equivalent to those set out in the Food Safety Authority of Ireland Guide to Food Safety Training.

As a food business operator there are other pieces of legislation which you will need to be familiar with and this will depend on your type of business. These will include areas like traceability and food information to the consumer including labelling and allergen information. However, just being aware of this legislation is not enough; you must ensure that these requirements are being implemented in your food business. This can only be achieved when you and your staff are adequately trained and have the knowledge and skills to produce safe food for your customers and thereby build and maintain a strong business reputation.  Further information on starting a food business can be found at      

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