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Reilly calls for Seanad debate on country of origin labelling

2 June, 2011

Sinn Féin Senator Kathryn Reilly has today called for a debate in the Seanad on country of origin labelling and the need to discuss the issue of substantial transformation.

Senator Reilly said:

“We are all aware of the breakout of EColi and the many deaths and hundreds of incidences of HCU that it has caused in Europe.

“While country of origin labelling is a requirement for beef, fruit and vegetables, it is not for pigmeat, poultry or sheepmeat.

“We should not have to wait for a food crisis to occur and I would ask that the Minister for Health and Minister for Agriculture come into the Seanad to discuss country of origin labelling and substantial transformation, which is not distinguished by the tariff nomenclature.

Speaking afterwards Senator Reilly said:

“Food labelling is the key source of information by which the consumer can determine which food to buy. Therefore food labelling must serve its primary purpose of informing the consumer. Consumers have a right to clear and understandable information on their food products and to know the origin of the food products that they are consuming.

“The absence of definitive country of origin labelling means that many food products are able to masquerade as products of another origin, which leads not only to misinformation for the consumer but also to potential health risks.

“We have seen too many products being passed off as Irish because of ‘substantial transformation’ and this is a particular problem in relation to poultry, too much of which comes from sources which do not have the same quality and traceability requirements that are imposed on Irish producers.

“Compulsory country of origin labelling will be clearly in the interest of producers, distributors, consumers and the marketing of produce globally.

“Only when there is complete transparency in the food production system will we be able to mitigate against food crises and health risks. That is why I am calling on the Minister for Health and the Minister for Agriculture to examine this issue in serious detail.”

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