Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Questions (523)

Bobby Aylward


523. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the steps he has taken to address the long outstanding issues regarding the mechanical grading and trimming of carcasses of slaughtered cattle in factories since reports of inaccuracies first emerged; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25186/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Carcass classification and carcass presentation controls in slaughter plants are carried out by a dedicated team of specialist staff in the Beef Carcase Classification Section within my Department.

My Department has implemented additional monitoring of carcase presentation by veterinary public health inspection staff (VPHIS) in all factories since January 1st, 2019 and provides a supporting role for the Beef Carcase Classification staff. This should provide further assurance to stakeholders that the appropriate dressing specification is being applied in factories.

The controls applied in Ireland in the carcase classification and carcase trim areas are significantly in excess of those required under EU Law. Unannounced inspections are carried out by authorised officers of DAFM every 2 weeks approximately – the EU legislation requires 8 checks per year. Under the same EU legislation, each on-the-spot check shall relate to at least 40 carcases. DAFM exceeds this requirement at each inspection by assessing a minimum of 100 carcases where mechanical classification is installed or 50 carcases where only manual classification takes place.

My Department supervised a recent trial of the mechanical beef carcase classification system to examine the modification of the current classification technology. The trial will establish if enhanced technology, including digital cameras and LED lights, complies with the legislation in respect of accuracy and legal tolerances.

A classification expert from the Netherlands independently monitored the two year trial and produced a detailed report which is currently being reviewed and will be published in the near future on my Department's website.