Department ‘continuing to engage’ with vets over meat plant action

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has responded to industrial action by Temporary Veterinary Inspectors (TVIs) in meat factories around the country in recent days, stating that it is “continuing to engage” on resolving the matter.

The department is “disappointed at the disruption to meat inspection services” provided by TVIs this week, according to a spokesperson for the department, who highlighted the importance of the work for food safety.

With a view to reconciling differences between the parties, the department has “actively engaged with Veterinary Ireland on a number of matters relating to the engagement of Temporary Veterinary Inspectors for some time”, the spokesperson said.

Acknowledging the efforts of all involved, “which have been very constructive to date”, the department remains convinced that a great deal of progress has been made between the parties.

“In the course of these confidential discussions, substantial progress has been made overall, with some issues of detail and process requiring finalisation,” the spokesperson added.

The department continues to engage with all the relevant parties in relation to this matter, and remains available for discussions.

TVI inspections provide for the assurances that are needed for the protection of public health and food safety.

The inspections are described as “a core element of the basis on which the Department of Agriculture can provide the necessary food safety assurances to its consumers both here and abroad, and to its many trading partners”, the department representative added.

‘Worrying shortage’

Veterinary Ireland contends that there is a “worrying shortage” of TVIs on meat factory panels at present, and the body is calling for new TVIs to be recruited on the same terms that current inspectors are on.

The hiring of new TVIs was suspended by the department in 2011 under a moratorium on meat factory panels.

The system has not been reopened by the department since – despite a number of retirements in the intervening years.