The most recent figures from the Food Safety Authority of Ireland show that 10 food businesses were served with Closure Orders in the month of September. The Food Safety Authority of Ireland Chief Executive Pamela Byrne was particularly alarmed by the number of closures as a result of pest related issues and particularly rodents. Unfortunately this news will not come as a surprise to Environmental Health Officers from the Health Service Executive who work on a service contract basis with the Food Safety Authority. Environmental Health Officers served 91 Closure Orders on food businesses in 2018 and a significant number of these were for rodent and other pest related issues.
Closure Orders are served on Food Business Operators where there is either a grave and immediate danger to public health or where there is an unacceptable risk to the consumer. In terms of food safety and grave and immediate danger to public health, rodents are always going to figure prominently. It is estimated that rats can carry up to 40 different diseases and they are known to spread leptospirosis and salmonellosis. In addition, rats can also carry fleas, lice and mites which carry disease themselves. It has been suggested that rodent borne diseases over the last 1000 years have been responsible for more deaths than all the wars ever fought (Nowak, 1999). This may seem dramatic but rodent activity in a food preparation or food storage area means a high risk of food being contaminated in such a manner that would render it unfit for human consumption.
The legal requirement for Food Business Operators is to implement adequate pest control procedures in their food business. For most business owners this means employing the services of a professional Pest Control Operator to manage pest control in their business. However, implementing adequate pest control measures is about far more than employing a pest control company. The Food Business Operator and his staff must have the knowledge and food safety training to know the importance of good pest control in ensuring the food they serve is safe and not contaminated. The EHAI Primary Food Safety Level 2 Course provides food workers with the necessary practical skills and knowledge in food safety including a section dedicated to pest control. Find a course that suits you at https://ehai.ie/courses/