Some 89% of Irish consumers surveyed by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) said that food was as safe or safer than five years ago, agency representatives said this Tuesday, presenting a new five-year strategy centred on research and new investigative techniques to improve compliance across the food chain.
The FSAI will develop a "central hub for intelligence," adopting new techniques to pick potential weak points for investigation in the agri-food industry and manage food safety threats.
The focus on early detection and efficient "incident management systems to deal with food crises" is reminiscent of the EU-wide 2013 horsemeat scandal, which the agency was first to detect at the time.
The Department cited FSAI lamb traceability audits among the reasons to introduce compulsory EID tagging for sheep last year
The FSAI will co-ordinate or fund scientific research, including "predictive approaches and data analysis methods" to create automated systems capable of identifying risks.
This will be done in collaboration with industry and the FSAI will share its experience with agencies, including the Department of Agriculture, to update food safety rules.
The Department cited FSAI lamb traceability audits among the reasons to introduce compulsory EID tagging for sheep last year.
The agency also plans to improve transparency and make the results of its investigations more accessible to consumers, while technical advice will increasingly be available online in plain English, including through e-learning courses for agri-food professionals.
The FSAI has also warned that official controls would have to be "Brexit-proofed".
"Our new strategy set outs the FSAI’s direction over the next five years to continue to be an effective state agency putting consumer health protection at the centre of all our activities," said FSAI chief executive Dr Pamela Byrne.
"It incorporates a modern approach using collaboration with our partners, along with the best available science and evidence to deliver robust, proportionate and fair enforcement of the regulations."
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