IFA President John Bryan said the move by the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney and other Ministers for Agriculture, along with the EU Health Commissioner Antonio Borg, to root out the sources of the equine scandal at secondary processing level with extensive testing is the correct approach for re-building trust with consumers.
However, the IFA President said for any action at EU level to be effective, it will have to include tighter regulation of the retail food sector as part of a fundamental review of how the food chain operates. “The retail sector, including food service operators and restaurants must implement clear labelling and ensure consumers have full traceability on all meat.”
In relation to retailers who are abusing their dominant position in the food chain, John Bryan said it is clear that the race to the bottom on prices has contributed to short-cuts being taken at secondary processing level. The consequences of retail pressure and practices such as below-cost selling have let consumers and primary producers down badly.
John Bryan said, “Retailers must ensure acceptable standards and quality are always maintained for consumers, and regulation must be urgently introduced by the Government and at EU level so producers are paid a fair price which reflects production costs and a reasonable margin”.
Mr Bryan said it is now obvious there is serious mislabelling and fraudulent activity at secondary processing level in parts of the European food supply chain. This has been facilitated by inadequate traceability systems in the equine sector.
He said the regulatory authorities across Europe must take immediate steps to ensure that controls around the movement of horses are robust.