New DNA testing regime will be mandatory for all Irish meat processors

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney is introducing a new DNA testing regime
Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney is introducing a new DNA testing regime

Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, has announced a new testing regime that will involve companies working with our Food Safety Authority to develop testing protocols



13 February 2013

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All manufacturers of Irish processed meat products will have to conduct DNA testing as part of a new regime announced by Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney.

The announcement follows revelations surrounding the pan-European nature of the horsemeat controversy.

France’s junior minister for consumer goods, Benoit Hamon, previously said that the horsemeat which ended up in certain readymeals produced by French company Comigel, had travelled through a complex supply chain including companies from Romania, Cyprus, France and the Netherlands.

In a move to limit the contamination of beef products, Minister Coveney said the State’s new testing regime will involve companies working with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland to develop testing protocols.

Following talks with the UK’s environment, food and rural affairs secretary, Owen Paterson, Minister Coveney also said that the Irish and UK food safety authorities would jointly agree an approach for protecting the authenticity of ingredients in meat products.

The Minister had also called for a meeting with EU commissioner for health Tonio Borg and ministers from affected countries in Brussels to consider the wider EU implications of the controversy and to see how it will be addressed at EU level. 

At the time of going to print, when the industry was awaiting the results of a wide range of DNA tests ordered by the UK’s Food Safety Authority, a further worrying development occured within the horsemeat debacle. Roly Owers, chief executive of the World Horse Welfare charity said there was "huge and widespread abuse" of the horse passport system here. 

Owers said a tripartite agreement that enabled the free movement of sport and race horses between Ireland, Britain and France had been broadened some years ago to enable the free movement of all horses except for those going to slaughter.

"We know there is widespread abuse of that agreement and the reality is we don’t know how many horses now are being transported between Ireland, the UK and France," he said on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme.

"It’s totally unregulated and there are big issues around the welfare of those horses, the spread of disease but also, most worryingly of all, there is the parallel criminal activity that goes with that trade," Owers added.



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