IFA president criticises state organisations
27 September 2013
IFA president, John Bryan, has criticised a number of organisations for their lack of commitment to local food producers.
The farmers’ group conducted a nationwide survey of public organisations, institutions and agencies into their procurement policy of food – and launched the results at the Ploughing Championships this week,
IFA issued the survey to 165 different bodies that included organisations such as hospitals, government departments and third level colleges. The survey was carried out in July to ascertain their commitment to local producers when purchasing food products.
The main focus of the research was to ascertain what the country of origin for the food products used by the various organisations was. The survey set out to discover the main origins of beef, lamb, ham, pork, bacon, chicken, eggs, milk, potatoes, vegetables and fruit products used in the organisations. It also asked if steps had been taken since the DNA episode to ensure the traceability and labelling of all meat products are accurate.
Bryan criticised the organisations surveyed saying: "Taxpayers’ money is underpinning the work of those we surveyed and the IFA feels very strongly that our food industry should be supported in return." He was very critical of The Defence Forces who allegedly have a very poor record in buying Irish. "One-third of its beef is sourced outside the republic and none of its bacon is sourced here."
He was also critical of the health services. "Some of the biggest offenders are hospitals, whose record on buying Irish is at odds with official HSE policy. The HSE, which spends €32 million a year on food, responded to our survey and said the standard sought from suppliers ‘should reach at a minimum Bord Bia Quality Assurance Programme or equivalent quality assurance scheme. Yet individual hospitals cite availability and price as the reasons for sourcing from abroad. Clearly, there is a disconnect between what the HSE says it does and what hospitals decide when sourcing food".
When it came to chicken and pork products, Bryan said 61% of respondents admitted they bought some outside of the republic, with only 39% committing to a local producer. The survey also revealed that 91% of respondents said they had taken steps since the DNA episode to ensure the traceability and labelling of all meat products are accurate.