Food Labelling

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]

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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]

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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.

Food Labelling

Question No. 187 answered with Question No. 185.

Questions (186)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

186. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views that food and food-product labelling continues to accurately reflect country of origin, standards of husbandry production and processing in respect of all meat and poultry products on sale here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29637/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Food production and labelling in the countries of the European Union operate 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.

The general labelling of foodstuffs is controlled under Directive 2000/13/EC, presentation and advertising of foodstuffs, as amended. This legislation is transposed into Irish law by European Communities (Labelling, Presentation and Advertising of Foodstuffs) Regulations 2002 (S.I. 483 of 2002). Under this legislation, the place of origin of foodstuffs in circulation within the EU is required to be declared only where failure to provide it would be likely to mislead the consumer.

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.

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.

EU labelling legislation does not include references to the standards of husbandry production. Such issues are governed by other legislation relating to animal health and welfare. The EU Food and Veterinary Office audit the controls of the importing countries for equivalent standards before that country is authorised to import meat into the EU.

Question No. 187 answered with Question No. 185.

Fodder Crisis

Question No. 189 answered with Question No. 183.

Questions (188)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

188. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent, if any, to which provision can be made to ensure the availability of adequate animal feed throughout the coming winter in view of the most recent experiences arising from inclement weather conditions over the past two years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29639/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

It is important that we do as much as we can over the next few months to ensure that Irish farmers are not faced with the same issues and difficulties next Winter as experienced earlier this year in sourcing adequate fodder for their animals. Accordingly, Teagasc’s Interagency Fodder Committee is currently monitoring the fodder situation while also examining and co-ordinating the next steps required to ensure that there is a strategic approach to fodder production and conservation to ensure continuity of supply.

I have also asked the Interagency Fodder Committee to report to the High Level Implementation Committee of Food Harvest 2020 which I chair, on the outlook for the rest of this year and also to detail the actions being taken to ensure adequate fodder is available for next Winter.

It is also important that farmers are maximising grass production and fodder conservation in the coming period and I have asked Teagasc to prioritise this policy in their advisory campaigns over the summer months. In this context, adjustments to the Nitrates regulations recently agreed with the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government will provide support to farmers to maximise grass growth and conservation into next Autumn.

Question No. 189 answered with Question No. 183.

Common Agricultural Policy Reform

Questions (190)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

190. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent to which he has studied recent submissions from the Irish Farmers Association and other farming representatives in the context of Common Agricultural Policy reform; the extent to which he has managed to address the issues raised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29641/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I have taken careful note of the submissions received from all the farming organisations and indeed from all stakeholders. They have been very useful in highlighting the main concerns and preferred options of the farming and wider agri-food sector. Of course, there are variations between the positions taken by different stakeholders and it is my job as Minister to steer a course that will deliver a policy that will be fit for purpose and that will underpin the future of Irish and European farming.

Let me remind Deputies that Ireland's priorities at the outset of these negotiations were to ensure in so far as possible:

- sufficient CAP financial resources to support sustainable food production in the EU and in Ireland.

- flexibility for Member States on farm payment models and transition arrangements, and

- a rural development policy that effectively supports competitiveness and sustainability.

I am pleased to state that substantial progress has been made in delivering on all these priorities. Although the MFF agreement has yet to be endorsed by the European Parliament, there is no question but that a substantial budget has been secured for the CAP, including in excess of €11 billion for Ireland over the coming period.

As to the other elements, next week in Luxembourg and Brussels, I am seeking to achieve political agreement between the three EU institutions on the CAP reform package in order to

- Deliver a rural development regulation that will provide the scope for Ireland to implement a rural development programme which targets support to Irish farmers to assist them in increasing their competitiveness and improving their sustainability; and

- Deliver a payment model that is fair to Irish farmers and supports sustainable intensification and active farming by ensuring a fairer distribution of direct payments while avoiding abrupt, large losses to higher paid farmers.