Dáil Éireann - Volume 472 - 04 December, 1996

Written Answers. - Food Safety Board.

57. Miss de Valera asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry the staff or resources currently in this Department which will be transferred to the new food authority. [23386/96]

72. Mr. Cowen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry the steps, if any, taken in his Department to date to facilitate the operation of the new food authority. [23385/96]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. Yates): I propose to take Questions Nos. 57 and 72 together.

The decision of the Government to establish the Food Safety Board of Ireland was announced by my colleague, the Minister for Health, in October last. Pending the enactment of the necessary primary legislation to give effect to that decision an interim board has been set up under the aegis of the Minister for Health.

The board's primary function will be to [896] monitor and assess the effectiveness of the controls and procedures in place to ensure compliance by the food industry with best practice in food safety and hygiene. In this respect, it will have an independent auditing and supervisory role in relation to the food control and inspection functions of all Departments and agencies and the authority to make decisions binding on these bodies in regard to any aspect of those functions. It will thus have final overall responsibility for ensuring that the control and inspection functions are established and carried out in accordance with best practice.

It will not, however, assume any of the primary functions of these bodies and consequently the question of transferring staff and-or resources from my Department to it does not arise. My Department and I will, of course co-operate fully with the board in the exercise of its functions.