IFA calls for more inspections at meat plants

Updated: Thursday, 31 Jan 2013 23:11

IFA President John Bryan has called for increased inspections at meat processing plants in the wake of the horsemeat controversy.

Mr Bryan also said his association wanted greater traceability of imported products.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, he said he had been in daily contact with senior Tesco management and had received assurances that they are happy with standards on Irish farms.

He said: "The Silvercrest plant at this stage is very seriously damaged.

"They supplied a product which they weren't supposed to supply. They imported a product there was no need to import.

"The rest of the industry, who have a good reputation, and that is accepted by Tesco and other major purchasers, meet those standards and should have no bother to continue to look after both their domestic and international customers."

Mr Bryan said part of the problem was the pressure to produce cheap products.

"Nobody should attempt to quote a price below the cost of production, because if you do you end up taking shortcuts, which is in nobody's interest," Mr Bryan said.

A British MP who heads a committee on food safety has said there are still questions to answer about how horse meat ended up in frozen beef burgers produced in Ireland.

Chairman of the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee Anne McIntosh said: "We obviously applaud the actions and the testing taken since November by the food standards agency in Ireland.

"I think we are very aware that perhaps this is potentially the tip of the iceberg."

She said the committee was surprised to hear yesterday from the Food Standards Agency for the UK that this was not just a rogue sample, but that the contamination could have been going on for more than a year.

The committee is now considering whether to hear further evidence from the parties involved, such as Silvercrest Foods.

Ms McIntosh said neither the British committee nor the Irish authorities has got to the bottom of the controversy.

She said: "It is open to the Irish authorities to consider how it was that this consignment from Poland did enter Ireland, and indeed the United Kingdom, in the state that it did."

Union fears

Unite trade union has said fears are growing for at least 112 jobs at the Silvercrest Meat processing plant in Ballybay, Co Monaghan.

Three more major retailers have cancelled contracts for frozen beef burgers following the horsemeat controversy.

The union is seeking talks with the management and the owners of the plant ABP Food Group.

The plant is currently closed.