Down District Council


Home » Food Safety

Food Safety

« Back

The Council enforces food control legislation with the aim of ensuring the safe production and sale of food within the District, reduce the possibility of food borne illness and protect the consumer with regard to composition and labelling of food.

Environmental Health Officers inspect and risk assess food premises to ensure compliance with food safety legislation. Advice and information is also provided to persons who are involved in the preparation, production and sale of food. Officers also take appropriate enforcement action where contraventions of food hygiene legislation have not been rectified.

Where there is imminent risk to consumers, Officers can serve an emergency prohibition notice which forbids the use of premises or equipment - this action must be confirmed by the Court. 

The Food Officers also:

  • Control licensed street traders who supply foodstuffs.
  • Obtain food samples for bacteriological examination and chemical analysis, deal with food complaints, and investigate cases of food poisoning.
  • Educate food handlers, the general public and school/college students.
  • Organise or take part in exhibitions, and displays.
  • Inspect food-manufacturing plants acting as home authority where appropriate.
  • Ensure that all unsound food is disposed of effectively.
  • Regularly carry out temperature control exercises on food stored and prepared for human consumption 

Infectious Disease Control

Environmental Health Officers investigate the sources of infectious diseases, on behalf of the Eastern health and Social Services Board, and assist in their control in order to prevent spread throughout the community. Investigations may be associated with food borne illness or other sources, for example, diseases of animal origin, or associated with foreign travel.

Don’t serve up food poisoning this Christmas

Follow our top ten turkey tips from the Food Standards Agency to keep your Christmas free from food poisoning.

1. Don’t wash your turkey.  Washing raw turkey is unnecessary and can spread germs.  Harmful bacteria can easily splash from raw meat and poultry onto worktops, chopping boards, dishes and utensils.  Germs that cause food poisoning can also linger for days in the sink.  

2. Make sure your turkey is cooked thoroughly.  Check your turkey is  steaming hot all the way through.  Cut into the thickest part of the turkey to check that none of the meat is pink and ensure that the juices which run out are clear.

3. Use your leftovers safely.  We all hate to waste food, so if you’ve stored cooked turkey in the fridge, eat it within two days. If you want to make your turkey leftovers last longer freeze and label. Ensure that hot food is cooled within two hours of cooking before placing in the fridge or freezer.   

4. Defrost your leftovers thoroughly.  If you have frozen your leftovers defrost them thoroughly before reheating.  Defrost them in the fridge overnight or in the microwave if you are going to cook and eat them straight away.  Eat defrosted leftovers within 24-hours and do not refreeze. The only exception is if you are defrosting raw food, which can be refrozen after it’s been cooked.

5. Use your leftovers creatively.  Love Food Hate Waste has some great suggestions to make the most of your leftovers.  Visit them here:

6. Keep it clean.  Always wash and dry your hands thoroughly before preparing food and after handling raw meat or poultry.  Make sure your worktops and utensils are clean and disinfected.

7. Be fridge friendly.  Check your fridge is at the right temperature – below 5°C – to stop germs from growing.  Don't pack the food too tightly as the cold air needs to circulate to cool your food.

8. Defrost fully.  If you buy a frozen turkey, make sure that the turkey is fully defrosted before cooking it.  It can take as long as 48-hours for a large turkey to thaw.  When you start defrosting, put the turkey in a large covered dish at the bottom of the fridge.  Avoid touching other foods and ensure the dish is large enough to collect any liquid, so it doesn’t contaminate other foods.

9. Avoid cross-contamination.  Use different chopping boards and knives for raw foods (e.g. raw meat and unwashed vegetables), and ready-to-eat foods (e.g. cooked meats, washed salads). Ensure they are cleaned between each use.  This will help to stop germs spreading.  Keep your raw turkey and other raw meats on the bottom shelf of the fridge, separate from other foods.

10.Food safety at Christmas is not just about turkeys.  Most people are aware of the importance of handling poultry safely, but many don’t consider the risk of food poisoning from vegetables.  Remember that it’s important to peel your vegetables because soil can sometimes carry harmful bacteria.  Washing will help to remove bacteria from the surface of fruit and vegetables.  

For more handy food safety tips during December follow the Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland on @FSAinNI

On the morning of Monday 23 December, experts from Love Food Hate Waste and the Food Standards Agency will be answering your questions on leftovers, turkey and food safety. Send your questions to @foodgov or @LFHW_UK using the hashtag #FestiveLeftovers

Kitchen Check Tips Leaflet 

For further information, please contact the Environmental Health Department.

Environmental Health
Downshire Civic Centre
Downshire Estate
Ardglass Road
BT30 6GQ
T: 028 4461 0823