Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Homemade vol-au-vents displayed at The Chef’s Counter in Portarlington. Photo: The Chef’s Counter Facebook page

By Carmel Hayes

A CLOSURE order has been lifted at a Laois takeaway, which was forced to shut down last month for breaching food safety legislation.

The Chef’s Counter in Portarlington, a takeaway deli shop serving homemade food, was ordered to close immediately after a HSE inspection in late April.

Potentially serious issues at the takeaway included ready-to-eat foods that could pose a risk of listeria, with no evidence of testing to provide grounds for the ‘use by’ dates on labels.

The temporary closure order, which was served on 25 April, has been lifted with effect from 5 May, provided the takeaway continues to comply with legislation after remedying food safety breaches. The outlet has reopened following renovations.

The Portarlington takeaway appears in a list of recent closure orders published by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI). The full report is available on the FSAI website.

A HSE inspector who visited The Chef’s Counter on 23 April found issues with food storage, ‘use by’ dates on ready-to-eat products and the cooling of food. An immediate closure order was served, under the 2020 European Union (Official Controls in Relation to Food Legislation) Regulations.

The inspector’s report on the Portarlington takeaway said:

“Raw materials and all ingredients stored in the food business were not kept in appropriate conditions, designed to prevent harmful deterioration and protected from contamination.

“The system of cooling foods on the shelf in the kitchen was inadequate. There was a reliance on the ambient air temperature to cool foods. Given the compact nature of this kitchen, with cooking equipment operating, the room temperature is not conducive to cooling foods within a safe timeframe.

“Risk: Cooling foods at ambient room temperature is not a controlled environment and may cause the growth of potentially harmful pathogens.”

Other findings in the report include: “The food business operator responsible for the manufacture of the product did not conduct studies … in order to investigate compliance with the criteria throughout the shelf-life.

“In particular, this applies to ready-to-eat foods that are able to support the growth of Listeria monocytogenes and that may pose a Listeria monocytogenes risk for public health. The operator produces a wide range of product and has labelled ready-to-eat products with >48hr shelf-life on each, with no evidence of testing to provide grounds for the use-by dates. Lasagne was noted on sale with a ‘Use by’ date of April 29th (date of inspection April 23rd).

“Risk: The longer the shelf life, the higher the risk of spoilage from pathogenic bacteria in products such as are produced in this premises and which can support the growth of Listeria monocytogenes.”

Enforcement orders and closure orders remain listed on the FSAI website for three months, from the date when a premises is adjudged to have corrected its food safety issue.


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