The process in establishing a new authority called the National Food Ombudsman has been outlined by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue.

Responding to a parliamentary question on the new authority from independent TD Carol Nolan last Thursday (February 18), the minister said:

“There is a commitment in the Programme for Government to the establishment of a new authority, to be called the National Food Ombudsman (NFO) or similar, to enforce the Unfair Trading Practices (UTP) Directive.

The NFO, whose remit will include the beef sector, will have a specific role in analysing and reporting on price and market data in Ireland.

“It is important to be aware, however, that the Ombudsman will not have a role in determining price,” the minister stressed.

He noted that the establishment of the NFO is ongoing and first off requires the drafting of a statutory instrument to transpose the UTP directive before the deadline of May 2021.

“Legislation is then required to establish the new authority. It is intended that there will be a national consultation process on the functions of the NFO prior to the primary legislation being enacted.”

Taskforce and transparency

On a related note, in reference to the Beef Market Taskforce, Minister McConalogue said:

“With regard to the work of the Beef Taskforce on transparency, the completion of the three market transparency studies commissioned by my department will be an important step towards improving visibility of the complex supply chain which is integral in fostering trust and enhancing supply chain relationships.

These studies will act as an important starting point for driving increased transparency.

Describing the need to work together as “more important than ever” due to the “unique set of challenges currently facing the sector”, the minister concluded, stating:

“Continued strong and constructive engagement in the Beef Taskforce is key to meeting these challenges.”