The Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney stated he is satisfied that the rules and regulations in terms of traceability and hygiene standards set out by the Commission are being implemented across the European Union.

Referencing the horse meat crisis he said: “Clearly, there was a breakdown last year, but that was because of blatant food fraud as opposed to a breakdown in the systems in place. Across the 28 member states of the European Union, we have comprehensive traceability requirements for the food industry.”

Speaking in the Dail last week, Minister Coveney stated: “We have free movement of goods and food in the European Union but we also have a tight, strict system that is common to every country and which sets out the obligations on full traceability. One can have rules but if someone sets out to commit fraud and deliberately mislead, as happened in the case of horsemeat, one needs robust systems to expose it.

“We go above and beyond what the European Union requires in terms of food safety controls as Ireland must be best in class. I am satisfied that the rules and regulations set out by the Commission are being implemented across the European Union.”

The Minister conceded: “there will always be mistakes, cases of food fraud and crises”. However he said: “It is our responsibility, as it is the responsibility of other member states, to minimise the likelihood of these events by putting proper inspection systems in place. The inspection systems in Ireland to enforce existing regulations and go beyond that to supervise processing facilities are there to protect the reputation of the Irish food industry.”

He also outlined that traceability issues play a key role in trade agreements. He said: “When the European Commission negotiates trade agreements with third countries outside the European Union, such as the recent agreement with Canada, a major aspect is a provision that the standards on traceability, safety, animal husbandry, hormones and genetically modified organisms which apply here also apply to producers exporting to the EU.”