THE recession appears to have led to a rise in shoddy hygiene practices as food safety enforcement orders surged to a record high.
The latest FSAI figures show 64 food businesses were served with closure orders last year (2011), 12pc up on 2010's record tally.
Another 16 premises received prohibition and improvement orders, which are also issued where there are serious public health risks, bringing the total number of enforcement actions to 80 -- the highest ever.
Basic problems such as filthy kitchens and food being stored at the wrong temperature or risking food poisoning by placing raw meat beside cooked products in fridges cropped up repeatedly.
The number of registered food businesses was up by 10pc since 2007 and there had been a massive 72pc increase in inquiries to the FSAI this year from people considering opening up cafes, shops and other outlets, said FSAI official Bernard Hegarty.
"Standards have not changed significantly and we're not carrying out more inspections, but there can be no leeway on food safety because of the recession," he said.
"We saw with the outbreak of E coli poisoning in Germany last year the devastating implications of poor food hygiene."