Dáil Éireann - Volume 576 - 03 December, 2003
Written Answers. - Carcase Classification Service.
Mr. Sherlock Mr. Sherlock
81. Mr. Sherlock asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food his plans to introduce mechanical grading of beef; when he proposes to introduce it; his views on factory graders carrying out the work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29204/03]
Mr. Deenihan Mr. Deenihan
103. Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if the staff from his Department will continue to be involved in cattle grading in factories until a mechanical system is in place in each plant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29104/03]
Mr. Walsh Mr. Walsh
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh):I propose to take Questions Nos. 81 and 103 together.
Ireland and Portugal are unique among EU member states as the only countries that exclusively provide and finance an official carcase classification service in meat factories. The decision that the Department should withdraw from providing this service is based on the principle that a departmental permanent presence in meat plants should be confined to areas where regulatory responsibility is vested in it, as the competent authority. The Department's only regulatory responsibility in respect of carcase classification is of a supervisory nature and it will continue to carry out this function.
Following withdrawal from carcase classification duties the staff concerned will carry out other necessary functions where there is a shortage of staff resources. Agreement has been reached with the IMPACT trade union on redeployment arrangements. In the meantime training of factory operatives, delivered free of charge by my Department, is currently in progress. This will enable factory operatives to be trained to the appropriate standard and enable them to provide continuity of service when the Department classifiers are withdrawn. At that stage my Department will provide intensive supervision of the grading process, in line with the systems operated in 13 other EU member states.
I have been pressing for the option of introducing mechanical grading for some time at EU level. This was finally agreed by the Commission earlier this year and machines were tested last month in factory conditions. The results of these tests will be available shortly. Given that mechanical grading is something which has been sought by the industry including factories and producers, I anticipate it will become the norm in the industry in the near future.
Dáil Éireann 576 Written Answers. Carcase Classification Service.