Dirty cattle could hit mince trade to the US – Department warns

Dirty cattle presented for slaughter have the potential to affect access to key markets for Irish beef, the Department of Agriculture has warned.

At the beef forum last week, Paula Barry Walsh District Veterinary Officer with the Department of Agriculture told the Beef Forum that carcase contamination has the potential pose a number of key trade risks with important markets.

She highlighted the potential loss of Chinese hide and fleece trade which she said was the largest and ‘probably only’ market for these products. Walsh said Irish processors cannot get into premium markets due to poor hide and fleece quality.

She also warned of the possible failure to capitalise on the newly opened US markets for beef intended for grinding due to hide to carcase contamination.

According to Walsh, the role of both farmer and processor is critical in improving the situation.

EU regulations state that those rearing animals or producing primary products of animal origin are to take adequate measures, as appropriate and as far as possible to ensure the cleanliness of animals going to slaughter and, where necessary, production animals.

The Department has plans to review and expand its Clean Livestock Policy (CPL) and has commenced with preliminary discussions internally.

CPL is a multi-stakeholder programme that promotes the cleanliness of animals at production to ensure clean when presented for slaughter for human consumption and introduced for cattle only in 1998.

Discussions are also now ongoing with stakeholders with Department officials hoping to progress the review as rapidly as possible to get ‘practical programme’ in place.

It is critical that farmers deliver livestock as clean as possible for slaughter and this policy needs to be properly enforced across processing plants, according to Meat Industry Ireland (MII).

According to MII, this is a critical area that needs to be highlighted as failing to deliver clean livestock to slaughter plants could have a negative impact on the entire production and processing sector.

It says that its members are concerned with the hide condition of some livestock presented to slaughter plants as this causes a major challenge to the hygienic dressing of carcases.