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Food Safety

The Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development faces many challenges in overseeing and supporting the development of a food industry which is capable of competing internationally and offering Irish consumers a wide range of quality food products. Central to all these challenges is the attainment of the highest standards of food safety within production systems that are economically, environmentally, ethically and socially sustainable.

Safety is a non-negotiable element in the whole food production chain. It is underpinned by a raft of EU and national regulations which are strictly enforced by inspectors of the Department both inside and outside the farm gate. These controls ensure that the national farm output of some 1 million tonnes of meat, 5 million tonnes of milk, 700 million eggs, 5 million tonnes of crops and vegetables, in addition to imports, meet the highest standards of safety.

The food industry is the single most important industry in Ireland with an output value of 16 billion euro and exports of 5 billion. The domestic market is small compared to the total output but plays a pivotal role in demonstrating the very best of Irish food - a veritable shop window for our consumers worldwide.

A graph illustrating the sources and quantities of major food stuffs in Ireland

Full details of the controls which the Department has in place are covered in this website. These include:

  • registration, identification and labelling,
  • farm inputs, animal feedingstuffs, animal health, animal welfare, veterinary hygiene, animal remedies, plant health and pesticides
  • transport, marketing centres, processing plants, storage and distribution operations;
  • imports and exports of animals and animal products, plants and plant products
  • laboratories, zoonotic diseases, animal and plant residues, etc

Safe food production is primarily the responsibility of each business at each link in the food chain. The Department's booklet on food safety: The Safe Food Chain.....Every Link is Vital - August 2003 (pdf 1,590Kb)  provides the consumer with information on the rules that these businesses must observe and the compliance checks by DAFRD which ensures that our food supplies meet the highest standards of safety and quality.