Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Questions (14)

Clare Daly


14. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will push for DNA testing of fish across the EU, similar to that undertaken in relation to the testing of beef products, in view of substantial evidence of fish mislabelling. [21408/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Responsibility for co-ordinating the enforcement of food legislation in Ireland rests with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI). The FSAI is an independent body under the aegis of the Minister for Health.

The FSAI carries out its enforcement function through “service contracts” with official agencies. These official agencies include the Sea Fishery Protection Authority (SFPA) and the Health Service Executive (HSE).

The SFPA is an independent body under the aegis of my Department. It carries out, on an ongoing basis, a range of official controls on seafood in accordance with its contract with the FSAI and the relevant EU and national legislation, from harvesting stage up to, but excluding, retail level. Comprehensive labelling and traceability checks are carried out as part of routine inspections by authorised SFPA officers.

The HSE has responsibility for official controls, including labelling, at the retail stage, including catering.

In Ireland, genetic analysis of fishery products is not done as part of routine official controls but it is available as a tool if necessary to detect mislabelling of food products. Currently under the EU Food Hygiene Regulations there is not a requirement to carry out genetic testing of fishery products as part of official controls.

However, the Irish seafood industry comes under a range of food labelling and traceability legislation. A key principle in labelling is that consumers should not be misled.

Seafood is covered by general food labelling legislation, including Regulation (EC) No. 178/2002 (General Food Law) and Directive 2000/13/EC (labelling requirements for pre-packaged foods), which prohibit the misleading of consumers with food labels. These rules have been enhanced with the recent adoption of Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers. The new Regulation extends explicit compulsory origin labelling requirements to meats other than beef and adopts rules on compulsory labelling where the origin or place of provenance of a food is given and where it is not the same as its primary ingredient.

There are additional labelling requirements for fishery and aquaculture products set down in Council Regulation (EC) No. 104/2000 (on the common organisation of the markets in fishery and aquaculture products) and Commission Regulation (EC) No. 2065/2001 (laying down detailed rules for the application of Council Regulation (EC) No. 104/2000 as regards informing consumers about fishery and aquaculture products). These regulations were transposed by the European Communities (Labelling of Fishery and Aquaculture Products) Regulations, 2003 (S.I. No. 320 of 2003). The Common organisation of the markets is being reviewed in the context of the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.

There has been an extensive review of labelling legislation at EU level which has resulted in a number of additional labelling and traceability requirements coming into place during 2012. These include traceability and labelling requirements under Council Regulation (EC) No. 1224/2009, enhanced traceability record requirements for food business operators in respect of food of animal origin (Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No. 931/2011), and additional labelling and traceability requirements for frozen food of animal origin (Commission Regulation (EU) No 16/2012).