‘Dirty’ sheep issues ‘resolved’ after meat industry meeting

Concerns over the implementation of the Clean Livestock Policy (CLP) for sheep have been alleviated following a meeting between department officials and meat industry representatives.

Over the last week, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, has been repeatedly called upon to intervene on the issue after claims of hundreds of factory slaughter rejections due to ‘dirty‘ fleeces.

Farm bodies described the implementation of the department’s three-category system for entry into the food chain as “over the top” and “overzealous” following reports that Kepak temporarily suspended the processing of lamb due to hygiene difficulties last Monday.

However, a department spokesperson stated that 93% of sheep that presented for slaughter last week – the first full week of implementation of the CLP – were compliant with the regulations.

In light of concerns about how vets at some plants were interpreting the rules, AgriLand understands that a meeting was held between department officials and representatives from the meat industry this week.

A source close to the minister said: “It is understood that many of the difficulties have now been resolved.”

An effective CLP is considered very important in terms of basic food safety, reputational status for Ireland’s meat industry and as a safeguard to the country’s major export trade.

Sending dirty sheep to slaughter increases the contamination risk from harmful bacteria. Dirty sheep also threaten the country’s valuable sheep and fleece markets.

The policy is underpinned by EU and national regulatory requirements.