Speaking at the IFA Executive Council meeting in Dublin today (Wed), IFA President John Bryan has said there are a number of very serious lessons that must be learned from the equine DNA controversy, and action must be taken to ensure that anything that can undermine the sector can never happen again.
He said farmers are angry at the recent revelations in the secondary processing sector, and cannot understand the need to import 47,000 tonnes of beef, when we are producing and exporting up to 500,000 tonnes annually.
John Bryan said, “Farmers are committed to Quality Assurance and are demanding that the beef industry immediately increases the price premium and properly rewards farmers for all Quality Assured cattle from approved farms”.
In order to reassure consumers, and enhance the high reputation of Irish beef products internationally, IFA is insisting on the adoption of a protocol of new measures:
The Bord Bia Quality Assurance Scheme must be adopted and applied right across the sector, including secondary processing;
The retail sector, including butchers, food service and restaurants must implement clear labelling as required under legislation, and ensure full traceability on all meat;
Retail regulation must be urgently introduced by the Government, and retailers must review their race to the bottom lowest price policy in order to ensure acceptable standards and quality are always maintained for consumers, and producers are paid a fair price which reflects production costs and an acceptable margin;
Only Irish raw materials should be used in meat products that are labelled and sold as Irish;
The Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney must insist on DNA testing and more stringent Department controls and inspections at secondary processing level, particularly where imports are involved;
Any serious breach in regulations or lapse in standards that results in damage to the reputation of the Irish food sector should lead to the loss of a licence for the processor involved;
The Department of Agriculture must introduce real transparency in the supply chain by publishing the names of companies importing meat and the volumes involved, on a monthly basis;
An efficient, science-based approach using the latest technology must be implemented by the processing sector, which provides the necessary guarantees right across the production chain.
The IFA President said, “Nothing or no-one can be allowed compromise the high standards and reputation of the Irish beef sector”.