DNA testing of cattle not needed at processor level – Coveney

DNA testing of cattle at processing level is not necessary, according to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney.

He said that the role of his Department is to verify compliance by food business operators with EU law, which places primary responsibility on them for the safety and traceability of food.

Speaking in the Dail recently, he said that he is satisfied that traceability requirements in place are sufficient to ensure the safety of the product.

“This is borne out by the successful audits of our traceability systems from the many third countries who have opened their markets to Irish beef in recent years.

“Specifically in regard to traceability, the regulations require that food business operators must have systems in place to be able to identify any person from whom they have been supplied with a food. They must also have a system in place to identify the other businesses to which their product has been supplied. In other words, a food business operator at each and every stage in the food chain must be able to identify the source of its inputs as well as having details of the first recipient of its output.”

He also said that his Department has a permanent veterinary presence at all DAFM-approved slaughter plants, while controls at stand-alone secondary processing plants are carried out at a frequency which is based on an annual risk assessment for each plant.

He said an annual audit of imported products is carried out in each Department-approved meat plant and there is no obligation under EU law to identify bovines using DNA testing. “The tagging system for bovines…requires all bovines to be identified with two matching ear tags within 20 days of birth and to register the calf within seven days of tagging on the AIM database.”