IFA Pig DNA scheme is not delivering on its potential – review finds

A review of the IFA pig DNA certification programme has found the scheme is not delivering on its potential.

The review team has made a number of recommendations to tighten up the scheme and ensure its credibility.

Paddy Wall and former IFA Pigs Chairman Tim Cullinan put forward their report to a meeting of the Pigs Committee last week.

“The scheme is not delivering on its full potential and needs to be tightened up. Further expansion of the scheme should not be considered until the database is complete,” the report states.

The report includes eight recommendations, including that continuous efforts should be made to ensure that the boar database is complete.

If there are boars being used on Irish farms or AI stations that are not in the database then this leaves the results of the scheme open to challenge.

It also recommends that deliberate non-compliance, when confirmed, should be exposed and that improved communication is required on how the process, and the sampling regimen, that permits the use of the DNA traceback logo operates.

Dr Paddy Wall, is the former head of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, and one of the report’s authors, said self-certification in this programme is a misnomer and the IFA should look at using a more appropriate name to the DNA traceback scheme.

He also told Agriland that the ability of the Scheme to detect non compliance is key. Wall also said that the sampling process in the scheme should be carried out by a single individual.

The recommendations state that one contact person should be identified in IFA to liaise with Identigen on the sharing of results and how these results are to be handled.

The recommendations also state that there should be no changes to the scheme without consultation, and approval, by the full IFA pig committee.

It also recommends that IFA enter discussions with Musgraves to move them to a position of using 100% Irish pigmeat.

The scheme is in operation since 2011 and the significant price increase of the Irish slaughter pig compared to the EU average (94% to 102%) is cited as a key win for the scheme.

The key challenge is to ensure imported meat is not being passed off as Irish and also to make consumers aware that ‘processed in Ireland’ does not necessarily mean that it is Irish pig meat.

However, the review identified two key issues: 91) is the scientific validity of the sampling methods and laboratory protocol and (2) how the scheme is administered and implemented.