I propose to take Questions Nos. 200 to 202, inclusive, together.
Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/1184 of 20 April 2017 governs the monitoring of carcass classification, carcass presentation and weighing.
In 2017, my Department conducted 628 unannounced, on-the-spot inspections in 32 factories on classification and carcass presentation. This is an average of 20 inspections per factory per year, which significantly exceeds the legal minimum requirement of 8 inspections per year. At each inspection an average of 85 carcasses were inspected for correct classification and carcass presentation. The legal requirement is 40 carcasses per inspection.
In 2017 there were 13 incidences where factories were instructed to revert to manual grading.
The unannounced check verifies the on-going accuracy of the automated beef grading methods by using a system of points and limits defined in EU legislation. At each inspection 100 carcasses are checked. If the machine is found to be working outside EU defined tolerances the factory is instructed to revert to manual grading straight away. The factory must then arrange for the machine to be serviced and a subsequent classification check will be conducted by Department officers to confirm it is within the legal tolerances before it is returned to mechanical classification mode. All manual classifiers are licensed by the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine.
In all cases where a machine is found to be working outside of tolerance, manual grading is instigated immediately and this is advised to farmers through their remittance dockets.
As with any mechanical system, grading machines can from time to time fall out of tolerance. Machines operating outside of tolerance are required to be serviced, and the calibration is checked by staff from my Department before mechanical grading recommences.