Written Answers. - Food Safety Standards.

Emmet Stagg

Ceist:

45 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the steps he proposes to take to ensure that lamb being offered for sale as fresh, has not previously been frozen and thawed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19027/03]

EU regulations define fresh meat, including lamb, as meat which has not undergone any treatment other than cold treatment to ensure preservation. Cold treatment can include freez ing. Those regulations also require meat, which has undergone a freezing process, to bear an indication of the month and year in which it was frozen. This particular provision is to ensure that the ultimate purchaser is aware of the status of meat prior to the sale.

Responsibility for ensuring compliance with EU meat hygiene regulations at export approved slaughter plants is a matter for my Department, at domestic abattoirs it is a matter for the local authorities while responsibility for controls at retail level is a matter for the health boards. All these agencies operate under service contract with the FSAI. One of the recommendations of the food labelling group, which I set up last year, was that the control of food labelling should be centralised in the FSAI and this is now under way.