Think-in hears of horsemeat scandal effects

“Farmers were emotionally destroyed by the fact they were producing beef and had inspectors on their farms every month, taking part in quality assurance schemes, and headlines going around the world was that our beef was contaminated by horsemeat.”

This is according to well-known Irish farming food journalist Suzanne Campbell who was speaking this morning at a Green Foundation Ireland conference.

Referring to the horsemeat scandal earlier this year, Campbell said: “People were not looking at what was being produced on the ground that was so, so great.”  The food manufacturing and the way food is retailed is really to a degree out of our control apart from the food safety directives, it is controlled by multinational companies and retailers, she added.

“People were  surprised to hear that there could be 15 people in the food chain between when an animal is killed and when it reaches your plate,” she said. Campbell paid tribute to Ireland’s investigation into the horsemeat contamination and its top food safety standards, in that Ireland was the first to detect the contamination.

“There is no time better to clap the food and farming industry. The sector is amazingly successful. Since the horsemeat crisis of earlier this year Ireland has actually secured new markets.”

Referring to yesterday’s UK National Audit report published yesterday, and farming journalist said it was evident that UK agencies repeatedly failed to act.

“Is our food safe to eat? I would think it is very safe in this country. One of the reasons again is going back to the family farm, you have good production standards and you have a degree of subsidy.”

In conclusion Campbell noted recent US food scares  in terms of salmonella poisoning in chicken and e-coli in beef. “They have a massive, massive problem,” she said and referred to numerous research on that matter.

The Green Foundation Ireland food seminar, ‘Food: Good to Eat and Good for Ireland’ is taking place today. Among the other speakers include IFA Vice President Eddie Downey and Prof Alan Reilly. More reports are to follow.

This story was updated at 12.33pm.