Retaining and developing the Irish home market is critical to the survival of Irish pig farms. Incomes on Irish pig farms have been decimated in recent years by increased input prices, the failure of the supply chain to return viable prices to producers and the lack of government action to deal with misleading labelling of pig meat products.
For this reason the IFA National Pigs Committee set up a system based on science (DNA technology) to assist in identifying Irish origins of pigmeat. When used correctly, the scheme enables IFA to detect the systematic substitution of non-Irish pigmeat with foreign imports, irrespective of whether the products are fresh, further processed or cooked.
Benefits for consumers
This scheme prevents misleading labelling of pigmeat products, providing clarity for consumers, in addition to elevating the Irish traceability system over and above other systems in Europe DNA traces actual pigmeat product as opposed to associated labels. This initiative provides clarity for consumers as to the origin of pigmeat products.
Benefits for pig producers
The scheme provides a key point of differentiation to Irish pigmeat. Farmers will be able to compete on a level playing field with imported products as consumers will not be misled. This scheme will give additional scope to market & promote pigmeat at home and abroad.
How it works
By building a DNA reference databank of ALL boars that contribute to pig production, it is possible, with a very high degree of confidence to confirm the Irish provenance of pigmeat through linkage of market samples back to a boar of origin.
This program requires
- A databank of Irish boars used for commercial
production to be at least 95% complete
- Regular program validation through analysis of
How reliable is the science?
The DNA Certified Program utilizes DNA paternity testing as the core technology which is well established and proven in the international criminal justice system.
Market samples are assigned to boars of origin through DNA profiling with a very high degree of statistical confidence. To ensure samples that don’t match to boars in the database are due to the use of foreign pigmeat (and not the result of a missing boar), the IFA collect multiple samples per target product/brand. These must yield consistent results (>99.9% certainty), before conclusive interpretations on the use of non-Irish pigmeat can be drawn.
Who has access to the national database?
The database was developed in conjunction with IdentiGEN and the only organizations approved to use it are the IFA, Bord Bia and companies that submit to an intensive regime of independent testing and verification.
What have we been finding?
High levels of compliance recorded on Bord Bia Quality Assured product at retail level. Levels of compliance to date on prodcuts from food service have shown higher levels of non-compliances.