Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Health care sciences and services, Public and environmental health

Publication Details

Safety Science


Increased product shelf-life and globalisation have led to longer and vastly more complicated food chains; potentially presenting greater opportunity for contamination and microbial growth to occur. Modern food safety management systems risk assess hazards (based on current scientific data) and strive to control these, often extensive and convoluted, food production/supply chains through appropriate good hygiene practices (GHP) and HACCP. Contamination of food as a result of human error can undermine even the most carefully prepared and executed HACCP system – culminating in foodborne infection, outbreaks, reputable damage, and erosion of consumer trust. This paper provides a review on the effect of human factors on the food sector in Ireland. Figures on foodborne outbreaks, laboratory analysis of ready-to-eat (RTE) foods, and crude incidence rate (CIR) per 100,000 population of infection were examined; in order to gain insight into the occurrence of food safety breaches in Ireland. Food safety legislative requirements and recommendations for Irish food businesses are considered, along with rates of inspection and enforcement. An average of 86 closure orders are issued in Ireland every year as a result of breaches, which can be generally either partially/fully attributed to human factors. This paper examines the critical role of human factors in safe food production; and includes data from Irish surveys on food safety training (food handlers and trainers) and food safety violations in a selection of Irish food premises. Food business owners need to commit time and resources to identifying, risk assessing, and addressing the potential role of ‘human error’ in their facility – whether intentional, unintentional, direct, or indirect. Appropriate recognition of the importance of human factors in food safety management, coupled with a high standard of training and appropriate implementation of food safety principles is necessary to safeguard modern food businesses.