Government needs to rebuild consumer confidence in pork products
Sinn Féin North West EU Candidate Cllr. Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has this afternoon called on Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith to minimise the damaging affect to livelihoods and jobs dependent on the pig-farming sector following the weekend’s recall of all Irish pork products. The Donegal Councillor also called on the Minister to use next week’s EU meeting of Agriculture Ministers as an opportunity to reassure Ireland’s EU partners that the contamination has been dealt with swiftly and that Irish pork products are a hundred and ten percent safe to eat.
The Donegal Councillor said:
"Christmas is a vital sales period for retailers and their suppliers. Small retailers and the farming sector, particularly along the border counties, are already suffering from the government’s budget cuts, increase in taxes and the significant reduction in VAT in the north.
“The Minister needs to ensure that any threat to the future viability of the pig farming sector are minimised. The government and Food Safety Authority must work with producers to ensure that the withdrawn products can be replaced on shop shelves as quickly as is safe and possible in the run up to Christmas.
“There are serious questions that need to be answered on how this contamination happened in the first place. Ireland’s food production system has been undermined and farming and retail sectors reputations discredited on the European and International markets. We need to ensure that the current checks and balances in food production safety are being enforced and that existing legislation is sufficient.
“Consumers anxieties regarding the health risks of the contaminate dioxins and how PCBs were passed into the food chain need to be addressed as soon as possible by the government. The public needs to be informed, and reassured, by the Department of Agriculture, Health and the FSAI so as to allay their concerns and restore consumer confidence in pork products.
"Government also needs to embark on a diplomatic offensive with it EU partners following the withdrawal of Irish pork products for EU and international markets. The pig framing sector in Ireland cannot afford to have this contamination crisis to end up replicating Belgium’s 1999 poultry and egg production ‘Dioxin Affair’ which ended up being a significant blow to its economy. EU and international customers need to be reassured that the contamination has been swiftly dealt with and that port products produced and exported from Ireland is a hundred and ten percent safe to eat." ENDS