IFA National Livestock Chairman Henry Burns said the beef and livestock sector has not been negatively affected by the horsemeat DNA saga.
“We have not seen an adverse impact in the market since this issue arose in January. In fact, beef prices and market demand have improved over this period of time.”
Henry Burns said lessons must be learned from this episode, and it is clear that there must be stricter controls on secondary processors, particularly in relation to imports. He said farmers cannot understand why processors need to import 47,000 tonnes of beef, when we are producing and exporting up to 500,000 tonnes annually.
He said, “Only Irish raw materials should be used in meat products that are labelled and sold as Irish. Clear and accurate labelling must be implemented right across the food chain to include the retail sector, butchers, food service and restaurants. This is required under legislation, and proper compliance with the regulation would guarantee full traceability on all meat”.
The IFA Livestock Chairman said 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. “To reinforce this, the Department of Agriculture must introduce real transparency in the supply chain and should publish the names of companies importing meat and the volumes involved, on a monthly basis.”
He said 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.