While water is always among our most precious and sensitive natural resources, its value is never more apparent than when you don't have it. Problems with the water treatment mechanisms at the Leixlip Water Treatment plant have resulted in two boil water notices affecting some 600,000 people less than two weeks apart. The areas impacted are parts of Fingal, Dublin City, parts of South Dublin, parts of Kildare and Dunboyne in Meath. Food businesses including childcare operators and hospitals in these areas affected by the boil water notice can use only boiled or bottled water for drinking and in food preparation.
Some food business have been proactive in their approach to the safe production of food during this time by putting in place new controls and processes to ensure the safety of their final product and recalling products or ceasing production where this safety cannot be guaranteed. It is essential that all food businesses are aware of the role they play in ensuring the public are not put at risk of illness during this time.
It is the responsibility of the food business to ensure that food prepared and served in their premises does not put the health of the public at risk. This involves food business operators assessing the risk in their own food premises and putting additional measures in place for the duration of the disruption to the water supply.
The following advice is given to Food Businesses at this time –
- Only boiled or bottled water should preferably be used for food preparation.
- After the water is boiled, if it is not for use immediately it must be kept in suitable clean containers and protected from risk of contamination for short periods of time only.
- Ice must only be made from boiled or bottled water.
- Equipment, worktops, chopping boards, or other surfaces that come into direct or indirect contact with food must be cleaned and sanitised using this supplied water that has been boiled before use or bottled water.
- Areas that do not come in contact with foodstuffs can be cleaned using any tank water supplied without it having to be boiled.
- The use of disposable utensils e.g. paper plates, cups etc is also recommended as a short term measure to reduce the need for washing up.
- Suitable antibacterial soap or hand sanitizer must be used for the washing of hands at all wash hand basins in the premises including those for customer use.
- Food workers and childcare workers should ensure that they wash their hands frequently; if no tap water is available they should use the water supply from water tankers if available, bottled water or hand wipes/sanitizers.
- Provision of water must also be supplied for the efficient use of toilet and wash hand basin facilities.
- Please note in some instances at the initial stages of a disruption to the mains water supply, stored water may still be available to wash hand basins; this water must NOT be used for drinking, ice or food preparation purposes.
Unexpected incidences like these reinforce to food business that staff need to prioritise and be informed about food safety and be in a position to make informed decisions to control risks. This boil water notice will undoubtedly force food businesses to review their food safety management procedures to ensure appropriate controls are in place going forward.
The EHAI Primary Food Safety Level 2 Course provides both management and food workers in a food business with the necessary practical skills and knowledge in food safety. Don’t delay, safeguard your food business today. Find a course that suits you at