Carcass dressing standards ‘properly applied across the board’

Meat Industry Ireland (MII) has defended the inspection and standards system in place in meat plants across the country, describing it as having a very high level of compliance and adding that it is set to be “further enhanced” as of January 1.

The representative group released a statement in response to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine publishing a list of meat factories which were guilty of excessive carcass trimming this evening (Friday, December 21).

The entity has also confirmed that farmer suppliers of carcasses found to have been excessively trimmed will be paid to “fairly reflect any value loss” on the carcass as of January 1.

MII said this evening that: “There is a comprehensive official inspection regime in place to ensure the highest standards of compliance with the EU beef carcass dressing specification.”

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine conducts over 500 unannounced inspections across all beef plants covering over 55,000 carcasses each year, according to MII.

The results of these independent inspections, which the department has now published, shows a very high level of compliance and adherence to the required carcass dressing specification.

“Additionally, the department’s inspection regime on carcass dressing is now being further enhanced, with the commencement of official monitoring on a daily basis in every plant by department officials permanently based in the plants.

“This is a far more intensive regime than operates in any other EU member state,” the statement said.

Over the past three years, some 47 penalties have applied in total, amounting to an issue on 0.03% of carcasses inspected, the industry group said.

By any measure, this is a tiny quantity and clearly demonstrates that carcass dressing standards are being properly applied across the board.

“Claims to the contrary are simply incorrect. Even in the isolated incidents where a penalty is applied by the department, the actual weight of over trim in most cases would be no more than a kilo.”

To “further assuage farmer concerns”, MII informed Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed on December 4 that beef processors had agreed to introduce a payment to the farmer to “fairly reflect any value loss” in each case where the department applied a carcass dressing fine.

This will come into effect as of January 1, to coincide with the introduction of the enhanced monitoring regime.

Such payment will be identified on the payment remittance docket, so that farmers will also be aware of the penalty, the group added.

Beef processors will continue to cooperate with the department in “ensuring the full and proper implementation of carcass dressing regulations”, MII concluded.