Tuesday, 12 November 2019
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Beef Industry Irregularities
426. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason he has failed to publish the conformation and fat score data from all cattle from both the old and new machines in the carcase classification trial; if he will now publish the data in view of the urgent need to restore confidence in the beef grading system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46401/19]
427. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of instances in which mechanical grading was suspended in meat plants in cases in which a machine was found to be working outside of tolerance and manual grading is instigated to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46402/19]
428. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the instances of non-compliance with the carcase trim specifications his inspectors have identified in beef plants each month in 2019; the plants involved; the payments made to the farmer supplier to reflect loss; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46403/19]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 426 to 428, inclusive, together.
To date in 2019, there have been 508 unannounced inspections by my Department’s classification officers and over 44,000 carcasses checked for classification and carcase presentation. During this period, mechanical classification machines were turned off on 6 occasions and factories instigated manual grading of carcasses.
In 2019, one factory has been fined for excess carcase trimming of three carcasses. It is intended to publish the names of all factories that have been fined in 2019 on my Department’s website in due course.
Regarding the carcase classification trial, I have published the resultant report entitled ‘Independent Report on the modification trial of the Mechanical Beef Classification System currently in use in Ireland’. The trial was facilitated by my Department and carried out in Slaney Foods. The trial which was also supervised by an Independent Expert clearly shows that the modified technology will bring about increased accuracy over current systems.
The methodology and data comparisons to be used in such trials are defined in EU legislation. When evaluating the performance of machines in this regard, the machines’ grades are compared against expert classification officer grades. For transparency purposes, in the report, the results of both technologies are presented although not required by legislation for the authorisation of new equipment.
The Independent Expert and author of the report concluded that the results are beyond what is required in the EU legislation to approve such modifications and he confirmed that this trial significantly exceeds what is required where classification equipment is being modified rather than being authorised for the first time.
It is now a matter for industry to consider the implementation of this new technology.