IRISH MANUFACTURERS OF processed meat products are being requested to carry out DNA testing by the Minister for Agriculture, it was confirmed this evening.
The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney has said 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.
A trader notice was issued by the Department to remind all food business operators of “the need to ensure the integrity of their raw materials”.
The Minister said he considers the DNA testing a “necessary step in order to provide further reassurance to Irish consumers and consumers of Irish food abroad”.
Coveney added that he has been in regular contact with his UK counterpart, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary Owen Paterson. The two spoke this afternoon.
Because of 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”.
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.
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.
Coveney also held a “lengthy and constructive” meeting with his Polish counterpart in Brussels. As a result of this, a Polish veterinary delegation will visit Ireland this week to be briefed on the department’s investigation to date.
Although a European response is needed, Coveney said that this does not lessen the determination of the Department and FSAI to continue to work with the Gardaí to bring the inquiries here to a conclusion.
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 evening, another product was added to the list of products found to be containing horse DNA. Tesco said that its frozen spaghetti bolognese was tested after being removed from the shelves, and found to contain up to 60 per cent horse DNA in some instances.