The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has released information aimed at advising farmers on best food safety practices. The move is part of an ongoing campaign to raise food safety standards in all sectors of food production.
The authority's five new information leaflets give practical advice to farmers on five key areas of concern. These include traceability, safe farm practices, the prudent use of antibiotics and chemicals, pasteurisation and meat contamination.
FSAI deputy chief executive Alan Reilly said that a few simple precautions can reduce the incidence of food pathogens and enhance food safety standards.
"These leaflets offer practical advice and tips on safe farm practices so that farmers can reduce the chances of them and their families contracting these germs and also so that they can be confident that food leaving their farms has met the highest standards of hygiene and safety before it goes to the next stage of processing or straight to the shop shelves," he said.
"It is hoped that the leaflets will be seen as a valuable resource to the farming community. Farmers have requested this information which shows their commitment to food safety and best practices. We have provided this information in a clear and concise manner to ensure that safe practices become second nature to all involved in the farming industry."
One of the leaflets covers the issue of milk pasteurisation on the farm. The FSAI points out that unpasteurised milk can contain dangerous disease causing bacteria including E. coli O157:H7, Listeria, Salmonella and Camplyobacter.
The leaflet outlines the dangers that may be associated with consuming unpasteurised milk - a practice, which is particularly widespread among farming families. In 1998, it was estimated that 84 per cent of Irish farm families consume unpasteurised milk - this leaflet aims to encourage farmers and their families who are drinking unpasteurised milk to prevent anybody becoming ill and to use a home pasteuriser for the milk their family and visitors consume.
Another leaflet covers the prudent use of antibiotics and chemicals. The misuse of antibiotics and chemicals in the food chain is a concern for both consumers and the food industry as it can result in the development of bacteria resistant to a range of antibiotics.
This leaflet highlights to the agricultural sector the dangers of misuse, the importance of best administration practices, compliance with mandatory withdrawal periods and record keeping.
The leaflets are available from the FSAI website or by telephoning +353 1890 33 66 77.