Code of Ethics


The quality and safety of goods sold, the professionalism of the service, and the well-being of the customer will always be the principle interest and concern of the management of Health Stores Ireland’s shops.

The following Code is the detailed application of this principle to the management of a member store.

  1. Storage, handling, and Sale of foodstuffs

The main ethos of a Health Stores Ireland shop should be the promotion of natural foodstuffs, organically grown where possible, as part of a healthy and balanced diet and lifestyle,


  • Within the Health Stores Ireland the safe handling, storage and sale of foods tuffs shall be upheld with primary concern for the well-being of the consumer.
  • Sound hygienic practices will be applied at all stages of the handling of foodstuffs. It is expected that staff and management will be holders of the Royal Society of Health’s Certificate in Food Hygiene or an equivalent qualification.  There will be a conscientious adherence to all Health Board guidelines and requirements in this area.
  • A strict stock rotation policy shall be adhered to.  All foodstuffs shall be priced, labelled and weighed in accordance with current Irish and E.U. regulations.
  • Foodstuffs will only be sold as Organic where they are supplied by an approved symbol holder.


  1. Storage, Handling, and sale of Food Supplements and Natural Remedies

The principle of quality and safety will apply to the stocking and sale of all food supplements and natural remedies in Health Stores Ireland’s stores.


  • There will be a clear distinction made between foods on the one hand and food supplements and natural remedies on the other within the store. This distinction shall be expressed in shop layout, with clearly distinct areas designated for each. Food supplements and natural remedies will always be displayed close to where a competent member of staff is positioned.
  • The management of Health Stores Ireland shop will take all steps in their power to ensure that food supplements and remedies stocked in their shop conform to the highest standards of quality and safety. That is:
    • They should be manufactured under Good Manufacturing practice (G.M.P.)
    • They should fall within safety limits as defined from time to time by the European Health Industry
    • They are safe for the purpose for which they are intended
    • They comply with any current regulations currently applying in food law
  • They will also seek to ensure that product packaging and any accompanying literature intended for public consumption complies with the following principles:
    • It contains a full and comprehensive list of ingredients
    • It contains a suggested dosage where relevant, and a warning against the danger, if any, of overdosing
    • It clearly states any particular contraindications (e.g pregnancy, prescribed medications)
    • Where products hold medicinal product authorisations the authorisation number is clearly displayed on the pack.
  • Products sold, and accompanying literature, may not make any medicinal claims except where permitted by their licence.  Health statements are however permitted. These are understood to be:
    • Statements referring to normal physiological, metabolic, or biological functions and the role individual products and ingredients may have in supporting or promoting those functions
    • Thus statements referring to the role of products eg in immune support, as antioxidants, or for joint mobility are considered health statements, but statements making reference to recognised medical conditions would be considered medicinal claims.
    • Statements must be  honest, accurate, and representative, and  consistent with known, established, and published principles of nutritional science.
  • In addition the consumer should be made aware of the following information with regard to traditionally used herbal remedies:
    • They should not be taken concurrently with any prescribed conventional medication without referral to the medical practitioner prescribing that medication.
    • They should not be taken for prolonged periods of time without consulting a doctor
    • They have not been subjected to allergy testing
    • The basis of their efficacy claim is traditional, not clinical experience
    • Safety during pregnancy has not been satisfactorily assessed. All remedies should be used with the utmost care during pregnancy, and most should not be used at all
  • Claims, other than those specified on a product carrying a relevant authorisation, should not be made by staff either verbally or through the provision of written material

Supporting literature such as manuals, text books, booklets and other clinical data should be used for education, training, and reference purposes only, and not used as a specific aspect in the sale of products.

  1. Training and Supervision

Health Stores Ireland is a professional organisation with a constant emphasis on the improvement and development of staff and customer service.


  • It is a requirement of membership that all Health Stores Ireland members and staff, responsible for advising customers, be fully trained in the use and application of the Health Stores Ireland Customer Care Protocol.  New members are required to have all staff responsible for advising customers complete the Protocol assessment within 6 months of opening. Existing member stores are required to have new staff trained in use and application of the Protocol within 6 months of start of employment.
  • It is a requirement of Full membership that all Full member stores have at least one named member of staff trained to Diploma standard, i.e., they should hold the IAHS Diploma in Health Food Retailing.  The listed member/ store owner is the individual who is responsible for ensuring that proper standards are adhered to.  The member may however delegate this responsibility to a manager or senior staff member who must be a Diploma holder. In this case Health Stores Ireland should be so informed. A Diploma holder should normally be available in the store during opening hours to provide support and guidance to colleagues in areas where this level of professional competence is required, including dealing with specific customer queries.
  • All stores to meet required HSE standard for food stores.
  • Member stores will be allowed a maximum of 4 years, from opening, to have all staff fully trained.  This encompasses 6 months to reach Protocol application level, with Diploma level being reached by the fourth  year by at least one nominated member of staff.
  • Owners and staff of Health Stores Ireland should ensure they have a wide knowledge of the origin, use and preparation of the foodstuffs they sell, that they continually keep themselves informed as to the developments and scientific research regarding these foodstuffs, and are familiar with current legislation regarding the sale and handling of all foodstuffs sold from their premises.
  • Owners and staff, both through their holding of the above Health Stores Ireland qualifications and independently of them, must have the knowledge required to advise customers on the safe and effective use of the food supplements and natural remedies stocked in their shops. They should either have or be able quickly to obtain specific knowledge of the indication and dosage for each product, have access to regular updates on the scientific research relating to these products, and be familiar with al aspects of the regulation and control of their sale. The IAHS member, or delegated Diploma holder, is responsible for the implementation of the provisions of this section.
  • Member stores are encouraged to provide their staff with the opportunity to attend further training seminars and courses both provided by the IAHS and by outside organisations.  All staff advising customers should be encouraged to undertake the Health Stores Ireland Certificate in Healthfood Retailing.


  1. Membership, provisional membership, and accreditation

  • Provisional membership shall be subject to signing of the Code of Ethics.
  • Acceptance for full membership shall be subject to inspection which will take place within a year from the date of acceptance for provisional membership.
  • Continued membership shall be subject to regular inspection and adherence to the Code of Ethics.
  1. Updating and Modification of the Health Stores Ireland Code of Ethics

The Health Stores Ireland Code of Ethics will be continually up-dated and developed in response to the on-going need to achieve high standards of knowledge and professionalism within the Health Food retail trade.

All amendments will be made at the AGM and members will be notified of draft amendments four weeks prior to the AGM.

As amended and approved at the AGM of Health Stores Ireland in 2011.

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