Guidance In The Event Of A Boil Water Notice
A Boil Water Notice is a formal notice issued to all properties in an area advising that drinking water from the public mains is not safe unless it is boiled and cooled beforehand. Irish Water will only issue a Boil Water Notice after consulting with the Health Service Executive (HSE), the statutory authority on public health matters.
The most common reason for issuing a Boil Water Notice would be where routine testing of the drinking water supply has shown the presence of harmful bacteria (such as E.coli), or pathogens such as Cryptosporidium.
FAQ – Can I use the coffee/tea machines?
You need to make sure the water in the coffee machine reaches at least 75°C to ensure harmful bacteria are killed. If not, the coffee machine should not be used.
Food business operators’ responsibilities
General food law places primary responsibility to produce safe food on the food business operator. The definition of food includes any substance, including water, intentionally incorporated into the food during its production or preparation. As contaminated water or ice can cause a food hazard (if used as an ingredient, a coolant, or for washing and rinsing food and food contact surfaces, food business operators are responsible for ensuring the safety and quality of the drinking water used in their operations.
A: Advice for Food Businesses Experiencing Disruption To Water Supplies
A potable supply of water must be provided in all food premises as required by European Communities (Hygiene of Foodstuffs) Regulations 2006. A potable water supply means a water supply that is suitable for drinking purposes or for use in connection with food or food equipment. The suitability of a water supply for this purpose is set out in the standards required by Council Directive 98/83/EC on the quality of water intended for human consumption. It is the responsibility of the food business to ensure that food prepared and/ or served in their premises does not put the health of the public at risk.
Whilst the precautions below outline some of the ways that this can be avoided ultimately food business operators need to assess the risk in their own food premises and in so doing may need to decide to reduce or cease trading for the duration of the disruption to the water supply. HSE Environmental Health Officers will continue to work with the food business and childcare operators in affected areas in this regard.
B. Precautions for Those Operating Food Businesses
Ensure that all water used for food preparation and consumption is from a supply that is from an approved and safe source. Disused private wells should not be used until the water has been tested and deemed satisfactory. Precautions with emergency water supplies Emergency water supplies may be provided through tankers in some affected areas.
When availing of Emergency Water supplies people are asked to bring their own containers for water collection. It is important to ensure your water container is clean before it is filled.
A sanitizer can be used to clean containers. Please follow manufacturer’s instructions. Containers that have been previously used to store chemicals should not be used for the transportation or storage of water.
You are advised to bring this tanker water to a rolling boil for one minute before use (this applies to both drinking water and water used for food preparation).All water for drinking and food preparation (with the exception of bottled waters) should be brought to the boil and then allowed to cool before using.
C. Please Remember the Following Important Points
1. Only boiled or bottled water should preferably be used for food preparation.
2. If you have any doubt about the water supply that is available or if it is subject to an official Boil Water Notice, this water if intended for use for direct drinking purposes must be boiled before use. After the water is boiled, if it is not for use immediately it must be kept in suitable clean containers and protected from risk of contamination. Please note boiled water cannot be kept indefinitely.
3. Ice must only be made from boiled or bottled water.
4. Equipment, worktops, chopping boards, or other surfaces that come into direct or indirect contact with food must be cleaned and sanitised using this supplied water that has been boiled before use or bottled water.
5. Areas that do not come in contact with foodstuffs can be cleaned using any tank water supplied without it having to be boiled.
6. The use of disposable utensils e.g. paper plates, cups etc is also recommended as a short-term measure to reduce the need for washing up.
7. Suitable antibacterial soap or hand sanitizer must be used for the washing of hands at all wash hand basins in the premises including those for customer use.
8. Food workers should ensure that they wash their hands frequently; if no tap water is available, they should use the water supply from water tankers if available, bottled water or hand
9. Provision of water must also be supplied for the efficient use of toilet and wash hand basin facilities.
10. Please note in some instances at the initial stages of a disruption to the mains water supply, stored water may still be available to wash hand basins; this water must NOT be used for drinking, ice or food preparation purposes.