I propose to take Questions Nos. 28 and 49 together.
I refer the Deputies to the report I presented to the Dáil on 14th March last on the 'Equine DNA and Mislabelling of Processed Beef Investigation', which includes a section on the actions taken and proposed to be taken both at national and at EU level.
Key action points included the following:
- The introduction of a national DNA testing regime implemented by industry under FSAI protocol to continue to provide additional assurances to consumers;
- Additional phenylbutazone (bute) testing of horsemeat produced in Ireland;
- All traders/agents of meat operating in Ireland to be registered as Food Business Operators(FBOs);
- Controls relating to horse identification are being strengthened and my Department is taking responsibility for the supervision of all horse abattoirs;
- EU labelling regulations should be reviewed with a view to introducing provisions in relation to intermediate labelling. Furthermore a mandatory requirement should be introduced on FBO's to notify competent authorities about incidences of mislabelling;
- EU regulations relating to the accessibility of complex internal traceability need to be reviewed;
- EU regulation relating to the identification and traceability of horses should be reviewed.
In my role as President of the Agriculture Council, I arranged last February to have the issue of adulteration of beef products which was shown to be a pan European issue. The matter discussed at EU level. The Commission promptly proposed the EU DNA and 'bute' testing programmes, the results of which were published on 16th April.
The EU Commission is now pursuing an action plan over the remainder of 2013 and into 2014 which includes specific actions and measures on the following basic elements: fighting food fraud, testing programmes, horse passports, official controls and origin labelling. It is important that controls in this area are strengthened on a pan European basis, not just at national level, and as stated in the report some of the measures envisaged will require legislative change at EU level.