HEALTH inspectors were forced to take action against a record number of food businesses last year over risky food safety practices.
There was a 30pc increase in enforcement actions served on restaurants, grocery shops, wholesalers and other food businesses in 2012, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland said.
A record 109 premises were served with enforcement orders, up from 84 in 2011, making last year the highest to date for such actions.
This included 91 closure orders, which are served when there is deemed likely to be a "grave and immediate danger to public health at or in the premises".
This was up from 66 closure orders the previous year.
Another 15 businesses were served with prohibition orders, which ban the sale of a particular batch of food because it poses a serious risk to public health.
FSAI chief executive Alan Reilly said the tally was extremely disappointing.
"Compared to 2011 we saw a substantial increase in the number of enforcement orders served last year, making 2012 the highest year for enforcements to date," he said.
Seven businesses were served with closure orders during December alone.
These included the Cumann Baire Setanta Teoranta Hurling and Camogie Club public house, on the Ballymun Road in Dublin.
May Kearneys, on Lifford Road in Ennis, Co Clare, was also served with a closure order applying to its ground-floor kitchen and food preparation area but not its bar service area.
The Pesce Grande takeaway's food preparation kitchen on Main Street, Aughrim, Co Wicklow, was served with a closure order that was lifted within days when the problems were sorted out, as was Mitsuba Ltd restaurant, at 154 Parnell Street in Dublin.
Dynasty Chinese Restaurant and takeaway, at Unit 9, College View, Ballymun Road, Dublin, was also served with a closure and a prohibition order on the sale of lasange, coleslaw, egg salad and cooked rice, but these were both lifted quickly.
The Anner Hotel, Dublin Road, Thurles, Co Tipperary, was served with a closure order on December 1 requiring it to cease using its current water supply but this was lifted a few days later.
Golden Mill Chinese restaurant, Sarsfield Street, Kilmallock, Limerick, was fined €3,000 for breaches of EU food hygiene regulations in 2012.