The Mayo IFA Chairman believes that consumers still have confidence in Irish farming and food despite the controversy surrounding the presence of horse meat in Irish-made beef burgers.
Last week, the Irish food sector was plunged into another crisis after the Food Safety Authority announced that it had discovered traces of horse meat and DNA in beef burgers made in the Silvercrest manufacturing plant in Monaghan.
While the burgers are not health risks and the horse meat is thought to have originated in products made in mainland Europe, the discovery has raised concerns about the traceability of meat products. It also has the potential to damage Ireland’s global reputation for safe food.
Mayo IFA Chairman, Padraic Joyce told The Mayo News that Irish farmers were ‘put through the mill’ by the Department of Agriculture on traceability, and he believes this will reassure consumers that Irish beef is safe.
“People should know what they are eating, but farmers operate to high standards, and this [discovery] has nothing to do with farming … Farmers have traceability right to the door and have been put through the mill by the department, which is only right in a way. The long and the short of it is that this does not pose a safety threat even though it [horse meat] shouldn’t be in it,” he explained.
Mr Joyce also added that he does not think this controversy will have a long-term impact on the Irish beef or food industry.
“Possibly in the short term this may change the way people eat … But I don’t think it will have a long-term effect. We meet the highest standards with traceability, and we are saying our beef does not pose a threat to consumers.”
Meanwhile Fianna Fáil spokesperson for Agriculture, Éamon Ó Cuív has called for a the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee to investigate the horse-meat controversy.
“It’s very important that the committee carries out a thorough investigation into the horse meat controversy, we need to ascertain exactly what happened and what can be done at a national level to ensure that it cannot happen again.
“Many jobs depend on the meat sector, from the farmers to workers in distribution, to workers in the processing industry. Our reputation as a safe, quality producer of food with a high level of traceability of product is vital. We need to get to the bottom of this affair quickly and take all necessary steps to protect our reputation,” he said.
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