Dáil Éireann - Volume 567 - 22 May, 2003

Written Answers. - Veterinary Inspections.

  73. Mr. Coveney asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food his plans to change the vet inspection scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13903/03]

  Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): The overall cost of the Meat Inspection Service has increased very substantially over the past five years and much of this cost is borne by the Exchequer. The payments for services provided by temporary veterinary inspectors at meat plants forms a major part of the overall cost.

  While there have been increased demands on the Meat Inspection Service as a result of new food safety requirements, there is no doubt but that the current method of delivery of the service could be improved in terms of flexibility, efficiency and responsiveness to the needs of a modern meat processing sector.

  I have considered a range of suggestions on how the service might be improved. My Department will shortly initiate discussions with all interested parties with a view to setting in motion a process that will lead to ensuring that the service can reach higher levels of efficiency, provide greater degrees of flexibility and make maximum use of the resources available while delivering better value for money. In any new arrangement I will ensure that the quality and safety of meat products will continue to be the main priority.