Environmental Health Officers : The Puking Police

Down with throwing up!

How many people die from food poisoning in Ireland?

How many die from food bought in a restaurant, pub or delicatessen?

How many have ever died from eating in a restaurant, pub or delicatessen?

How many people have died from eating food from a take-away, however filthy it might have been?

Here’s a good one: how many children in creches have died as a result of eating food cooked on the premises?

If the numbers were enormous, I think we’d know.  If they were very large, we’d know.   If they were noticeable, we’d know.

Are there any cases of death from eating food bought in one of these places?  Perhaps.  I suppose some particularly filthy cook might well have poisoned somebody to the point where they expired, but none of this is relevant.

Here in Ireland, we have built up an enormous apparatus of food inspectors who impose the harshest of regimes on food producers and retailers.  They close down perfectly good restaurants that have never poisoned anyone simply because their kitchens are below a prescribed floor area. Not too dirty: too small.  It happened to a lovely little restaurant here in Limerick, because some idiot from the Heallth Board couldn’t see beyond their check-list.

Creches in private houses have to send out to the local deli for food, even though entire families have survived the same kitchen unscathed and the parents of the toddlers are quite happy to have their kids fed there.

It doesn’t matter what the parents think.   It doesn’t matter what the patrons of the restaurant with the small kitchen think.  They might be perfectly happy to use the service, but the authorities know better.

There are regulations and they must be obeyed at all costs.

A friend of mine runs a small tourist café somewhere in the remote west of Ireland.  Recently, an official arrived, opened a bag and produced a full CSI jump-suit to carry out an inspection of the kitchen where they produce highly dangerous soup and sandwiches.  He found nothing wrong during his forensic examination, but a week later sent a note pointing out that he had noticed a spider on the window and asking that it be removed.  A dangerous spider. The kind that eradicates disease-carrying bluebottles and house-flies.

Here’s the question.  I’m pretty sure that not many people have ever died from eating bad food out of a restaurant or shop, and with improving standards of knowledge, the risk has probably diminished.  So what exactly are these inspectors trying to prevent — people throwing up?

Is that what we spend millions regulating?  The danger that someone might puke?

If they want to stop people puking, the best place to start would be the pubs, in my opinion.  Lots of puking outside pubs.  Let the nice restaurants with the small kitchens alone.  Leave the mammies in the creches to get on with the business they understand.

Enough clipboard-ticking.  Who cares if the kitchen is the size of a phone box as long as it turns out good, clean food?

More Irish bureaucratic bullshit.  Lots of talk, no results.

In this country, we’re regulating ourselves out of business and we can’t afford it any more now that we’re broke.

30 thoughts on “Environmental Health Officers : The Puking Police

  1. some of the “rules” are probably written by people who think milk comes from a factory by mixing some clean chemicals. Just imagine if they understood that real vegetables actually grow in dirt, and get really organic if you put some manure on every now and then. And eggs…. they are popping out the arses of chickens….. Perhaps they have based their approach on the fact that everybody eats, and everybody dies. That’s a strong correlation.

  2. None of this regulation actually encourages good practice. You lay out the kitchen to meet the regs not in the manner that would be the most efficient to cook and clean.

  3. nothing wrong with dirt. it’s good for you. builds up your immune system.

    I don’t bother cleaning the turkey shit off my mushrooms when I cook them – might wipe them, but sterilising them is ridiculous – if it’s good enough for the mushroom, it’s good enough for me.

    the “five second rule” can kiss my ass. if it has hairs after you pick it up, wipe the hairs off.

    being absolutely hygienic about your food leads to hysteria and a very intolerant immune system.

  4. Well I have eaten in some” dodgy ” restaurants in foreign places including one where I looked down at my feet during the meal to see two rats sitting there waiting for scraps haha.Anyhow the upshot of it all is I never got food poisoning from any of those places.Although according to the food inspectors here I should be dead now.The regulation industry is just a symptom of power tripping nanny state bullshit.

  5. And the very same idiots probably wouldn’t be able to knock together a shepherds pie at home.

  6. C`mon Bock, real time here, they are there to protect, to support, to help!

    However hard some people work to give value, there are always some people who don`t care!

    It is the difference that these inspecters make amongst the latter.

  7. The real question is why we have put this regulation in place. Is it because we have become joeduffyized – if you get sick someone must be to blame and they must pay and be stopped from doing it again. We have become a scared little people looking for 100% certainty in all aspects of our life. Maybe we should be wrapped in cotton wool and never go out into the scarey world.

  8. Too true. And it would be one thing if we as a country enforced every law and regulation and code of practice to the letter, but we don’t. We ignore most of our laws, most of the time, in many cases where the enforcement of them might actually be a positive thing. So what’s so special about “food safety”? The conspiracy theorist in me thinks that the Beef Barons may have used their influence over the years to help make life difficult for small abbatoirs run by local butchers, but this wouldn’t explain the attitude to restaurants and pubs. It could simply be a case of regulators caring more about covering their asses from every possible angle, rather than about having a sense of proportion, or fairness. Then of course you have the straight forward case of a jobsworth with a checklist and an officious or overzealous attitude, like that case of the garage owner with the calendar. Definitely some power tripping going on there.

  9. Having said all that, I would caution against the overuse of your opening argument to other situations (the argument that because there is no visible problem, why are we paying all these guys to deal with it). It is a valid argument in this case, but there is always the possibility that a problem does not exist because the authorities are doing their job properly. Sometimes you only see the impact of someone’s job when they fail to do it. The financial regulator would be a good example. If he had done his job properly many of us wouldn’t know who he is or what he does, and some (like S Fitzpatrick,) might well have been giving out yards about all the tax money he was spending.

  10. It’s not possible to generalise but in this case, I don’t think there was a major problem before all these regulations were introduced. This isn’t to say that there should not be inspections to prevent gross abuses, but I think there’s a lot of petty box-ticking, which is damaging our quality of life and our economy. There has never been a sense of proportion when enforcing regulations in Ireland because people are too afraid to use their good judgement.

  11. Totally agree with you Bock; EssoDee, you have a good point but in the case of many health inspectors, it often seems more like that they are inspecting to fill some pre-defined quota of “problems found” as though if they don’t close enough places down they might be out of a job…maybe they get commission :)

    Asking for the spider to be removed, that is so retarded. Unless it was a black widow, your friend should have written back saying it was an employee and a valued member of the Cafe’s “Infection Control” team!

    It bugs me how we’re being constantly bombarded and scared into thinking that we’re living under the constant threat of touching something and immediately dying in an horrific explosion of bacteria-induced snot and bodily fluids. Did you see that ad for the doap dispenser that you don’t have to touch?You turn the tap on with dirty hands, get your “wireless” soap, wash your hands, rinse them off and then turn off the dirty tap.Clever…..
    By the same token, I used to work with a guy who was one of those germ-a-phobics. He would cringe at the thought of touching anything in a bar, for example, and insist on wiping the seat and bar before he’d sit down, let alone put a smudged glass to his lips. Truly a child of the “kills 99.99% of bacteria” generation….yet this same freak would happily go to a club ride every stranger he could!

  12. Is there anything the ombudsman can do in these cases, is there anyone to appeal to besides Joe Duffy?

  13. Some of the best food I’ve ever eaten was in NYC restaurants with kitchens the size of a shoe box. A small shoe at that:)

  14. Bock @ 13, such a very sensible and erudite post. Wonderful assesment, sums it all right up

  15. Another example of enforcing rules and regulations where common sense would dictate otherwise;

  16. Well, with creches, it’s mostly about the type and quality of food, as well as the hygiene – very young kids definitely should not be given salty or sugary foods, too much fat… It’s mainly about fresh fruits and veg – and making sure they are really fresh!

  17. I agree with Bock.My pal is unemployed and he bought a candy floss machine to try and earn a few quid.The health inspector closed him dow n because he had no hot water available.He wasn’t allowed gas,apparently its not allowed,so he got himself a generator.They closed him down again as it was a standard generator,forcing him to replace it with a silent-run version.
    Things were going ok for a week or so till the weights and measures man got hold of him to know how he was guaging each measure.This last issue still hasn’t been resolved.
    This story sounds like a leg-pull but I assure you its true.

  18. What a congregation of clowns on here. So what you’re all saying is that Ireland should be the only civilized country in the world that doesn’t regulate food safety?

    Thankfully mucksavages like ye lot will never be in power- or else we would have many cases like the 13 people killed in Scotland a few years back by eating an oul harmless burger! Or maybe the 15 people in Germany this year no longer on around cos they ate some harlesss greenbeans…


  19. What sort of gobshites are on this? Just forget about regulation and let cockroaches be served out in rice? (Happened prior to closure) see http://www.fsai.ie for more.

  20. You want people to trawl through the entire fsai website? Why not provide the actual link yourself if you want to make a point?

  21. It creates jobs to have those pen-pushers wandering around, running their fingers along the back of the fridge condensor with a monocle permanently fixed to their eyes in the hope that they can cash in on any dust they find. We should stick red tape all over the kitchen and with a non-toxic brown crayola, plaster the word “Politics” all over the sticky bands… although they probably wouldn’t get the pun while too busy frantically searching for the toxicity of non-toxic crayons in the kitchen in a desperate attempt to shut you down. How else can they guarantee their jobs? Much like clampers and ticket soldiers… the scourge of society…

  22. Get yourselves a BSc Environmental Health and help out.

    The last thing EHOs want to do is close somewhere. It’s about saving lives- hence the highest standards in the world in the Rep of Ireland.

    The filthy disgusting assholes here want no regulation…


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