Wednesday, 27 March 2019
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Meat Processing Plants
220. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on whether it is not possible for factories to comply with the legal regulations set down for beef carcase trim; the steps he is taking to address this situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14379/19]
The rules on trimming of carcases at meat plants are well established, and their execution is monitored by classification and control experts in my department.
In addition, the department has worked closely with meat plants to provide training in the standards required and has provided a photographic template illustrating acceptable and unacceptable trimming practices.
The controls applied by my department significantly exceed EU requirements. In 2019, they have been supplemented by additional monitoring by departmental staff in factories. These controls indicate a high level of compliance with the rules, and that the system functions effectively. This combination of significant engagement and additional monitoring and control has led to high levels of awareness of the necessary trim specification.
The nature of the manufacturing environment, differences in carcase shape and composition, and other variables, can result in variations in carcase trim between individual carcases from time to time. Where these exceptional cases involve trimming outside of specification, control officials require the meat plants to take immediate corrective action. In cases where my department forms the view that such errors are systematic or intentional, they may apply an on-the-spot fine. From 2019, Meat Industry Ireland has indicated that processors will introduce a payment to farmer suppliers to reflect any loss in cases where such a fine is applied.