Mechanical carcass grading suspended twice so far in 2020

Mechanical grading for carcasses has been suspended on two occasions so far in 2020, but no factory has been fined for non-compliance in carcass presentation, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Dara Calleary has confirmed.

The new minister was responding to two questions on the matter from independent TD for Roscommon-Galway Denis Naughten last week, who asked for the number of instances of non-compliance and the number of times mechanical grading was suspended in 2019 and so far in 2020.

It was highlighted that mechanical grading was suspended six times last year.

In his response, Minister Calleary said:

To date, in 2020, officers from the Carcase Classification Division of my department have conducted over 260 inspections across 32 factories (mechanical and manual grading plants) and over 23,600 carcasses were inspected.

“During these inspections, officers monitored compliance with the EU reference carcass presentation specification.

“Monitoring of carcass presentation was also carried out by my department’s Veterinary Public Health staff based in the factories, on a daily basis.

“To date, in 2020, no factory has been fined for non-compliance with carcass presentation.”

Highlighting that the mechanical classification method must operate within legally defined tolerances at all times, Minister Calleary noted that, when any mechanical system is found to be working outside of such tolerances, the meat plants concerned are instructed to revert to manual grading.

Farmers are advised through their remittance dockets where manual grading is applied, the minister added.

Regarding the suspension of mechanical grading, this occurred on two occasions to date in 2020 and the factories in questions were instructed to revert to manual grading.

“In all instances, classification officers from my department conduct a classification check before a factory is allowed to recommence mechanical grading. In 2019, mechanical grading was suspended on six occasions,” the minister concluded.