Thursday, 29 January 2004

Questions (89, 90)

Dan Boyle

Question:

86 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the extent to which his Department monitors poultry producing companies and the extent to which they source poultry from outside of this State. [2608/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Agriculture and Food)

The European Communities (Fresh Poulty Meat) Regulations 1996 provide for the approval of poultry meat processing establishments slaughtering in excess of 200 birds per week. In all, 14 such establishments have been approved by my Department and are subject to supervision by my Department's veterinary inspectorate. There are also a further 12 poultry meat processing plants which are also subject to veterinary control by my Department.

In the period January to September 2003 some 39,000 tonnes of poultry meat was imported into Ireland. Of this, 27,000 tonnes was fresh/frozen product and 12,000 was processed product. This compares with Irish poultry meat exports of 60,000 tonnes during the same period. The majority of the poultry meat used as a raw material in these processing/manufacturing plants, and particularly in the higher value added sector of the industry, is sourced outside the country.

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

87 Mr. N. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the position regarding the slaughtering of turkeys and geese on-farm; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that this practice is part of the country's tradition for many decades; his views on whether to change this practice is wrong, based on the fact of tradition; if a change is brought into place, if it will arise from an EU regulation; if so, if he in his capacity as Agricultural President of the EU, will seek a special derogation for Ireland in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2628/04]

View answer

I am aware that on-farm slaughter of turkeys and geese is traditional in this country.

The EU Commission has introduced a package of proposals aimed at revising and updating food hygiene regulations. The proposals provide flexibility concerning the direct supply, by the producer, of small quantities of meat from poultry slaughtered on the farm to the final consumer or to local retail establishments.

In implementing this proposed legislation, I will clearly be mindful of the necessary balance between small scale traditional practices and the need to ensure consumer protection.