Food legislation requires that primary producers rearing animals or producing primary products of animal origin are to take adequate measures to ensure the cleanliness of animals going to slaughter. My Department has, accordingly, developed a clean livestock policy which has been agreed with farmer, haulier and Food Business Operator stakeholders. The policy document was finalised in February 2017. This policy is a public health measure, intended to reduce the potential risk to consumers that may arise if meat is contaminated by dirty fleeces.
The cleanliness of a fleece is related to the farming practices from where the sheep originates as well as being influenced by the stakeholders along the supply chain. All stakeholders can influence the cleanliness of the sheep fleece.
Teagasc has produced “A Guide for Sheep Producers”, which sets out key advisory recommendations for sheep producers to assist them in the production of sheep with fleece that are suitable for slaughter for human consumption, a copy of this guide was issued to all registered flockowners along with the 2017 sheep census forms in early December 2017. My Department has also written to all sheep farmers and transporters directly. Full details regarding the policy are available on the Department's website - https://www.agriculture.gov.ie/foodsafetyconsumerissues/foodsafetycontrolsonmeat/cleanlivestockpolicy/
The production of sheep meat suitable for human consumption is the primary objective and responsibility of the food business operator in line with food legislation. Each food business operator must draw up procedures to demonstrate how they achieve this. This involves a fleece evaluation and actions, as necessary, to ensure cleanliness of the fleece prior to slaughter.
My Department oversees the production of sheep meat to ensure that it meets the standards necessary for consumers and our trading partners.
The need for an effective clean livestock policy is regarded as being very important not just in terms of basic food safety, but also as a reputational issue for Ireland’s meat industry and our export trade.
Our clean livestock policy is vital for the protection of the consumer and to protect our export markets.