CEISTEANNA—QUESTIONS. ORAL ANSWERS. - SALES OF FOREIGN BACON IN SAORSTÁT.

asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce whether he is aware that large quantities of Chinese and other foreign brands of bacon are being imported into the Saorstát; that these imports are not branded or marked with the name of the country of origin or production; whether he will have early investigation made regarding these imports; and whether, as these imports into the Saorstát are wholly unnecessary and are, further, a danger to the public health, he will issue an order prohibiting all such imports.

The imports of foreign bacon into the Saorstát have declined substantially during the last few years. There is no information available to me as to what proportions of these imports were Chinese or other foreign bacon. Under existing legislation it is not obligatory that such imports should be branded or marked with the name of the country of origin or production unless they, in fact, bear a brand suggestive of Irish production or origin.

I have no power to prevent the importation of bacon from any country, but it is probable that imports will continue to fall as a result of a recent order of the Department of Local Government and Public Health forbidding the importation or sale of foodstuffs containing preservatives. The question whether legislation should be introduced to require the branding of food and other imports with their country of origin is under consideration.

Is it not a fact that some considerable time ago the Minister for Agriculture made a statement that he intended to introduce legislation which would make it compulsory on all those people who import foreign bacon to brand on the bacon the name of the country of origin? As the Minister knows, a good deal of foreign bacon imported into the country is sent down to certain curing factories in Ireland, and after undergoing a certain process of smoking there is sent on to the shopkeepers and retailed in the shops as Irish bacon. The consumers are under the impression that it is Irish bacon.

That is all a series of statements on which I have no information. The Minister for Agriculture could not promise, and never promised, to introduce such legislation. It would not be his business to do so.

Is the Minister's Department making those investigations?

With regard to what?

With regard to the imports of foreign bacon?

I have statistics with regard to the imports, but not particulars as to the countries of origin. The reason is that they are not bound to mark on the bacon the countries of origin.