‘Customers have the right to know that their food is labelled authentically’

Customers have the right to assure themselves that the food they consume is labelled authentically,” according to the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed.

His comments come in the wake of a Co.Meath meat wholesaler being found guilty of falsely declaring beef as being of Irish origin.

The Minister also said that customers also need to know that  the integrity of the supply chain has not been compromised.

“Nonetheless a successful prosecution such as this shows that bodies responsible for the enforcement of labelling legislation are utilising the relevant legislative powers to enforce the law in this area,” he said.

The FSAI is the body responsible for enforcement of regulations governing traceability, labelling and provision of food information to customers. The case in question was prosecuted at Navan District Court following an investigation conducted by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) and Meath County Council.

While the Minister said this week that it would not be appropriate for him to comment on the specifics of the case, he did say that it is imperative that food businesses ensure that they have robust traceability systems in place to check that the appropriate food safety systems and compliance with the law are assured.

“I assign the highest priority to this issue to ensure continued confidence in our agri-food industry, and my Department continues to work with all stakeholders to ensure the highest standards continue to be enforced across the sector,” he said.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) welcomed Judge Gráinne Malone’s ruling at Navan District Court in recent weeks, in a case involving Keelaghan Wholesale Meats Ltd of 101-102 Ashbourne Industrial Estate, Ashbourne, Co. Meath and six offences related to breaches of food safety legislation.

These included falsely declaring Irish origin for beef imported from Poland, Lithuania or Germany; the application of false Irish slaughter and cutting plant codes used on packaging labels and; having an inadequate beef traceability plan.

Keelaghan Wholesale Meats Ltd. was found guilty of six charges. The company was fined a total of €16,000, with €10,000 as an agreed contribution to costs.