Thursday, 7 February 2019

Questions (200, 201, 202)

Michael Fitzmaurice

Question:

200. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to Parliamentary Question No. 224 of 30 January 2019, if the factories will be named that had to revert to manual grading when their mechanical classification systems were found to be working outside the legally defined tolerances in 2017 and 2018; the dates on which these instances occurred;; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6065/19]

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Michael Fitzmaurice

Question:

201. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to Parliamentary Question No. 224 of 30 January 2019, the number of beef carcasses rechecked by Departmental staff on days on which the mechanical classification system of a processing plant was found to be working outside the legally defined tolerances in 2017 and 2018; the length of time factories were instructed to revert to manual grading when the mechanical systems were discovered to be out of sync; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6066/19]

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Michael Fitzmaurice

Question:

202. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of inspections of beef carcasses carried out by Departmental staff in processing factories in 2017 in relation to carcass presentation and carcass classification; if there were discrepancies in relation to the inspections; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6067/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 200 to 202, inclusive, together.

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/1184 of 20 April 2017 governs the monitoring of carcass classification, carcass presentation and weighing.

In 2017, my Department conducted 628 unannounced, on-the-spot inspections in 32 factories on classification and carcass presentation. This is an average of 20 inspections per factory per year, which significantly exceeds the legal minimum requirement of 8 inspections per year. At each inspection an average of 85 carcasses were inspected for correct classification and carcass presentation. The legal requirement is 40 carcasses per inspection.

In 2017 there were 13 incidences where factories were instructed to revert to manual grading.

The unannounced check verifies the on-going accuracy of the automated beef grading methods by using a system of points and limits defined in EU legislation. At each inspection 100 carcasses are checked. If the machine is found to be working outside EU defined tolerances the factory is instructed to revert to manual grading straight away. The factory must then arrange for the machine to be serviced and a subsequent classification check will be conducted by Department officers to confirm it is within the legal tolerances before it is returned to mechanical classification mode. All manual classifiers are licensed by the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine.

In all cases where a machine is found to be working outside of tolerance, manual grading is instigated immediately and this is advised to farmers through their remittance dockets.

As with any mechanical system, grading machines can from time to time fall out of tolerance. Machines operating outside of tolerance are required to be serviced, and the calibration is checked by staff from my Department before mechanical grading recommences.