Dáil Éireann - Volume 651 - 08 April, 2008

Written Answers. - Food Labelling.

Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the progress she is making on ensuring a more comprehensive labelling system for meat and food products imported into this country for sale; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13078/08]

  Deputy Mary Coughlan: The Minister for Health & Children has overall responsibility for the general food labelling legislation. Responsibility for enforcement of labelling legislation rests with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) through its service contracts with my Department, the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, the Health Services Executive, the Local Authorities and the National Consumer Agency.

As regards meat and meat products, EU beef labelling legislation requiring country of origin labelling of beef has been in place since September 2000. As this legislation did not cover beef sold by the catering trade I collaborated with the Minister for Health & Children to have national legislation enacted to require that all beef sold or served in the retail or catering sector is now required to carry an indication of the country of origin. This legislation is also enforced by the FSAI.

In relation to poultry meat, there are EU Regulations, which provide for the labelling of unprocessed poultrymeat at retail level. The Regulations require such poultry meat to be labelled with the information regarding class, price, condition, registered number of slaughterhouse or cutting plant and, where imported from a Third Country, an indication of country of origin.

My Department, in conjunction with the Department of Health and Children, drafted regulations that would require the country of origin to be indicated on pigmeat, poultry and sheepmeat. This was notified to the EU Commission in December 2007 as required by legislation. The Commission was not prepared to adopt the draft regulations in their present format on the grounds that the proposed legislation is not in compliance with EU food labelling regulations. However, it indicated that it will reconsider the draft measures once we have submitted additional explanatory information. This information is currently being prepared for transmission to the Commission. I will continue to press for progress, as I believe consumers are entitled to full information on the labelling of food products.