Food Safety & Nutrition for Consumers
A large number of people in Northern Ireland suffer from food poisoning each year. It causes illness, unpleasant symptoms, time off work and can also be potentially life threatening for the very vulnerable e.g. young children, elderly or those recovering from illness or infection. Many cases of food poisoning can be avoided by following good hygiene practices during the manufacture, distribution, retail and preparation of food.
Environmental Health Officers at Antrim Borough Council carry out the following work to reduce the risk of contamination of food;
- Offering advice to new businesses opening within the Borough
- Planned inspections of all food businesses within the Borough
- Routine microbiological sampling of food products
- Responding to hazard warnings to ensure unsafe food is not exposed for sale
- Investigation of consumer complaints in relation to unsatisfactory food
- Investigation of incidents of food poisoning
- Monitoring the importation of fish and fishery products via Belfast International Airport and products of non-animal origin
- Providing information and advice to consumers on food safety matters
Environmental Health Officers at Antrim Borough Council are also concerned with how food is packaged and labelled. Food labels are an important source of information providing the following details:
- Name of the food
- Use-by date
- Preparation instructions
- Storage instructions
- Manufacturers details
- Lot/Batch number
- Allergy advice
Many food manufacturers will now label pre-packed food items with the nutritional value of the food and compare this to recommended Guideline Daily Amounts (GDAs). Manufacturers are not required to provide nutritional information unless they make a nutritional claim.Environmental Health Officers carry out routine chemical sampling and compositional sampling of food products to ensure that food items contain the correct quantity of ingredients and meet specific compositional standards.
Antrim Borough Council also works with caterers to help them take steps to ensure that their customers can make healthier choices when eating outside the home. Environmental Health Officers will give advice to caterers on how to provide and promote healthy options on their menus.
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