Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Questions (185, 187)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

185. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent to which checking, cross-checking and inspection continues in order to ensure the integrity of the labelling of all food and food products imported into this jurisdiction or into the EU and subsequently to this jurisdiction; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29636/13]

View answer

Bernard Durkan

Question:

187. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent to which full traceability applies in respect of all animals or poultry slaughtered here or imported directly or through other EU or non-EU jurisdictions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29638/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 185 and 187 together.

Food production and labelling in the countries of the European Union operates in accordance with harmonised rules and member states controls are subject to audit and supervision by the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) of the EU.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) under the aegis the Minister for Health has overall responsibility for the enforcement of food safety and labelling requirements in Ireland. It carries out this remit through service contracts with my Department and other agencies including the Health Service Executive (HSE), Local Authority Veterinary Service and the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority.

Inspections to ensure compliance with labelling legislation are carried out by a variety of inspection services provided by the HSE and my Department under the aforementioned contracts.

EU law provides for the free movement of goods between Member States. On that basis, meat and meat products produced in an establishment which is approved under the relevant EU regulation can be moved freely within the EU. Food business operators in Ireland are responsible for carrying out checks to ensure that their ingredients come from approved plants. They must also have a system in place to identify the source of inputs and destination of outputs (referred to as one “step forward and one step back”).

My Department has a permanent veterinary presence in all its approved slaughter plants. Controls at stand alone secondary processing plants are carried out at a frequency which is based on an annual risk assessment for each plant. Checks are also conducted at retail level by the HSE, working under the aegis of the FSAI.

An annual audit of imported products is carried out in each Department approved meat plant. The audit includes physical identity, labelling and documentary checks. This includes product originating both in EU Member States and third countries. In addition, labelling and documentary checks form part of the routine checks conducted by Department officials.

Poultry products imported from outside the EU must come from plants approved under the European Union veterinary inspection regime. These premises must have equivalent standards to those pertaining in the EU. Such meat products are subject to documentary, identity and, where necessary, physical checks at the point of entry to ensure compliance with the EU requirements.

The Food Information for the Consumer Regulation (1169/2011/ EC) provides inter alia for mandatory country of origin/place of provenance labelling. This Regulation extends mandatory origin/provenance labelling, already applying in the case of beef, to pigmeat, sheepmeat and poultry. The Commission has been asked to bring forward its proposals in relation to the mandatory origin/provenance of these meats to September so that the detailed rules can be adopted by the end of this year. It is intended that the legislation will come into effect in 2014.