IRELAND - Results of an initial round of DNA testing carried out in butchers’ shops across Ireland has shown that many products labelled Irish do not come from Ireland.
Irish Farmers Association (IFA) National Pigs and Pig meat Committee Chairman Pat O’Flaherty said that he was very disappointed with the test results.
Mr O’Flaherty said: "IFA introduced the DNA certified pig meat traceability programme to identify imported pig meat and stop consumers being misled about the origin of pig meat products.
"An initial survey of the butchers shows over half (51 per cent) of the 120 pork and bacon products (back rashers, bacon joints and pork chops) sampled in 11 shops in nine different locations around the country were not assigned to the Irish boar database in IdentiGEN, which means the products are not Irish.”
Over the last number of years, IFA have been working with the Association of Craft Butchers (ACBI) and their members to improve transparency for consumers. It was agreed that in the absence of a Bord Bia Quality Assurance Programme for butchers shops, IFA would support the ‘Certified Craft Butchers Programme’. As part of this programme, certified butchers were to display the country of origin of their meat products in store.
Mr O’Flaherty said: “The level of imported product identified by the DNA testing is compounded by the fact that the country of origin was not displayed in any of the butchers stores audited. Over 80 per cent of the locations are part of the Certified Craft Butchers Programme, yet none carried country-of-origin labelling”.
When these findings were discussed with the ACBI, they claimed that some butchers might be supplied with imported meat, passed off as Irish.
"We are calling on everyone that is conscious of buying Irish to ensure that the supply chain is transparent. IFA will continue to test products and highlight anomalies that mislead consumers.”
However it was not all bad news, two of the butchers audited demonstrated strong support for Irish meat and Irish farmers. These two ‘star performers’ were O’Crualaoi Butchers, who operate four stores in Cork and Quinns butchers in Shannon, Co, Clare.
Mr O’Flaherty said: “Both of these stores are members of the Association of Craft Butchers and it should be pointed out that the ACBI members showed much greater support for Irish meat than the non-members”.
Mr O’Flaherty said: “IFA wants to support local businesses and we appreciate that the local butcher is under pressure. However, that is not an excuse to mislead the consumer on the origin of their meat. We will continue to work with the ACBI to rectify these problems. A fresh round of testing in butchers shops will commence next month”.
TheMeatSite News Desk