Food Safety February with Brendon Ireland

Well… what a year so far!

2022 has fired off all guns blazing. Everything has all come at once since we’ve been quietly whispering the idea of “endemic” with coronavirus. Obviously I’m still playing the cautious game and strategically positioning my pawns and pieces just in case this isn’t the end. 

Firstly the local authority inspections in the food safety world has seemed to come out very firm in 2022, I’ve noticed on my local areas the businesses typically known for their 5’s on the hygiene rating has been downgraded dramatically with reports going from a couple of pages up to 10-20 pages long. Whether this is a change of strategy by the authorities to improve safety standards, or the fact businesses have become relaxed not having an inspection in over 2 years remains to be seen. 

In my own bubble, a lot of my work has been focused towards continuing to develop the National College Of Hospitality with emphasis on training food safety from a normal hospitality mindset. In food safety we have plenty of courses and qualifications focused towards the higher standards of manufacturing and productions, but not so much choice when it comes to the real life scenario of a restaurant kitchen. 

Towards a more practical aspect of my currently life, I’ve been heavily involved in a brand new manufacturing & production operation which has started from the ground up. This is taking up most of my daytimes at the moment with focus toward selling out to retails and looking towards SALSA accreditation which is a minimum expectation of food producers selling to large chains.  

As we move towards the back end of 2022 I am enrolling onto “The Certificate of Higher education in food safety” which is a 2 year course focused at individuals looking to expand their knowledge in food safety and have a greater understanding. Obviously I will keep the whole of the HSE people up to date on how this is going and be sure to offer insight into a higher level learning on food safety. 

My outlook for food safety in 2022 is varied. I see a lot of progress from businesses coming out of the pandemic, but I also see a lot of businesses struggling financially. The sad thing with this is most food businesses will cut back on training and education first when money is tight, this then has a negative effect on standards. 

From the other side I’m optimistic to see how the FSA and other food organisations develop our standards now we’ve adopted existing EU legislation. Although the existing legislation is suitable for what we need, we have a real opportunity to show real leadership on a world front on food safety. We’ve already showed this with the FSA hosting the first international food safety conference and how successful we were are providing a fantastic virtual platform that was of interest to individuals of all levels. 

The big shift for this year is in July where food businesses over 250 employees will have to provide nutritional information on dishes they serve. It shows a real emphasis that food safety isn’t just about bacteria and hazards, but also about the importance of providing information and healthy options when eating out 

(Did you know sometimes your salad can contain more sugar & salt than a chicken dinner?)

So what else?

Well you can expect the usual monthly food safety discussion from myself and the usual suspects and also a new food safety podcast, which after some fantastic interviews I’ve decided to continue onwards beyond food safety February! And to include some big food safety names! (stay tuned for these). And obviously I’ll be continuing with all the usual HSE people roundtable talks with hopes to meet members face to face!

Other than that (yeah I know, not much…) My world will be fairly the same moving forward with my usual excitement and obsession with bacteria to continue through the year. 

Anyway, I’ll stop rambling on now! See you all soon!

Wash those hands!