THERE WERE 9,499 incidences of non-compliance in food labelling in Ireland in 2011, new figures show.
The figures were released to Deputy Bernard Durkan on foot of a parliamentary question to Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, on 6 November 2012.
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI), under the aegis of the Minister for Health, has overall responsibility for the enforcement of food safety in Ireland, including food labelling regulations.
The FSAI found non-compliance with labelling legislation in thousands of cases in the past four years, with the percentage increasing between most years.
The inspections found the following incidences of non-compliance with labelling legislation:
- 2008: 3,437 (13.19 per cent)
- 2009: 11,231 (16.33 per cent)
- 2010: 9,919 (14.04 per cent)
- 2011: 9,499 (15.98 per cent)
There were eight prosecutions on foot of these inspections, which included breaches in labelling legislation.
Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Deputy Durkan said that the information “brings home to us all that you have to be ever-vigilant” about food being imported into Ireland. “You need to have some idea of whence the product came originally and under what guise,” he said. “You cannot afford to have a multiplicity of activity at plants.”
Regarding labelling, he said that “what it says on the packet needs to mean what it is”.
Figures also show that in 2009, 16 food consignments – three of which were meat or meat products – were rejected from Ireland.
In 2010, there were four meat/meat products rejections out of 25 rejections. In 2011, Minister Coveney said: “Our inspections would confirm that, in general, imported products are as compliant as domestic products in relation to marketing standards.”
On 9 February 2012 Minister James Reilly told Deputy Durkan that:
- In 2008 the HSE carried out 18,068 food labelling and 7,031 traceability inspections which identified 2,866 and 522 non-compliances respectively.
- In 2009, there were 54,177 food and 12, 194 traceability inspections, during which they identified 8,425 and 2,335 non compliances.
- In 2010, there were 52,571 food and 15, 947 traceability inspections, during which they identified 7,079 and 2,422 non compliances respectively.
- One 2009 HSE prosecution cited offences under the 2006 country of origin of beef regulations and a further prosecution cited the beef labelling regulations 2000
- In 2010 four HSE prosecutions cited offences under labelling legislation including general labelling, country of origin of beef, fish labelling and beef labelling regulations.
The Agriculture Department’s responsibility extends to carrying out annual traceability and labelling audits at all approved beef processing plants and cold stores, the Minister told Deputy Durkan.