LAST year was "extremely disappointing" for food safety as a record number of businesses breached rules designed to protect consumer health, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland has warned.
There were 143 enforcement orders served for breaches of food safety legislation during 2013, which was a 31pc increase on the previous year, making it the worst on record for food safety.
The tally included 119 closure orders, which are issued when there is deemed likely to be a "grave and immediate danger to public health".
Some 20 businesses received prohibition orders, banning the sale of certain batches of food because it could pose a serious risk to consumers.
And four businesses received court improvement orders, requiring them to make vital changes to protect consumer health.
FSAI chief executive Alan Reilly said that every order issued was one too many.
"It is extremely disappointing that, yet again we have seen a significant year-on-year increase in the number of enforcement orders needing to be served, making the 2013 figures the highest number of enforcements to date," Professor Reilly said.
"Last year's 31pc increase is extremely disappointing and serves as an unfortunate reminder that some food businesses continue to put their customer's health at risk by not complying with their legal obligations of food safety and hygiene."
There has been a 5pc increase in the number of food businesses in operation over the last five years, but the continuing surge in safety problems is disproportionately higher.
The FSAI has stressed this is not down to increased inspections although inspectors have been targeting the most risky sectors.
However, details of enforcement orders show many closures are down to very basic failings such as dirt, the lack of hot water or absence of a systematic food safety management plan.
Eleven closure orders were issued on takeaways, pubs, grocery stores and restaurants last month alone.