Written Answers. - Meat Imports.

David Stanton

Ceist:

255 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he has satisfied himself that the level of imports of beef, sheep and pig meat over the past 12 months are BSE and growth promoter free; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28287/98]

The importation of meat products from member states and third countries is governed by EU harmonised rules. The main conditions for imports include: advance notification to my Department of each consignment; the goods must be accompanied by veterinary certification or, in certain cases, a commercial document; the goods must come from an establishment, e.g. slaughterhouse, cutting plant or coldstore which has been approved by the EU Commission.

Following the European Commission Decision of 27 March 1996 (96/239/EEC), the importation of cattle and products of bovine origin from the UK was banned from 28 March 1996. Since the introduction of the prohibition, close liaison has been maintained between my Department, the Garda authorities and Customs and Excise to ensure that the ban is implemented.

In so far as growth promoters are concerned, there is common EU legislation in relation to the general prohibition on use and on the controls to be effected in each member state at farm and slaughter plant level to detect any infringements. Such controls are subject to regular EU audit. Ireland implements fully its obligations in this regard. As regards imports from third countries, under EU legislation, such trade may only originate in countries where the European Commission is satisfied that the regulatory system in the country concerned offers guarantees equivalent to those under the EU legislation. third countries, which are authorised under this system to export meat to the EU, are subject to on the spot inspections by the EU Commission to ensure the effectiveness of their controls.
In addition, imports of meat to Ireland from third countries are subject to monitoring for the presence of certain substances which it is technically possible to detect in meat. However, since analytical methods for growth promoters, as such, can most effectively detect such residues in bodily fluids and organs, as distinct from meat, such checks on imported product would not necessarily provide any additional effective safeguard to consumers.