Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Press Statement:

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney has today confirmed that he will be requesting Irish manufacturers of processed meat products to carry out DNA testing and to work with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) in developing testing protocols for this purpose. The Minister considers this a necessary step in order to provide further reassurance to Irish consumers and consumers of Irish food abroad.

The Minister has been in regular contact, most recently this afternoon, with his UK counterpart, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary Owen Paterson. Having regard to the close trading relationship between the Irish and UK food industries both Ministers have agreed that the FSAI and the UK Food Standards Agency will work closely together and jointly agree an approach for protecting the authenticity of meat ingredients used in the manufacture of meat based products.

As this matter has developed into a pan European problem, Minister Coveney has arranged a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday next with EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy Tonio Borg to consider the wider EU implications of the recent revelations concerning the presence of horse meat in beef products. The Minister intends to discuss with the Commission and other relevant Ministers whatever steps may be necessary at EU level to comprehensively address this matter. The Minister has also arranged to have the issue on the agenda for the next Council of Agriculture Ministers later this month.

As expected last Thursday the Minister also held a lengthy and constructive meeting with his Polish counterpart in Brussels and as a result a Polish veterinary delegation will visit Ireland this week to be briefed on our investigation to date.

Following the findings of the FSAI Survey on the authenticity of meat products (published on January 15), which disclosed the presence of horse meat in burgers and the identification in the follow up investigation of the source, the problem has developed into a pan European investigation of food fraud involving a range of meat products and traders/food business operators. The Minister stressed that, while a European response is needed, it does not lessen the determination of the Department and FSAI to continue to work with the Gardai to bring the enquiries here to a conclusion.

While the investigation is ongoing, a Trader Notice was issued by the Department reminding all food business operators of the need to ensure the integrity of their raw materials.
The Minister said he would continue to take whatever actions are necessary to ensure this issue is addressed in a comprehensive and effective manner. “It is worth noting that it was because of the vigilance of our testing and control regime in Ireland that what is now a pan European problem was exposed”.

This statement appeared on the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) website on Monday 11th February 2013