Written Answers - Food Imports.

Tuesday, 15 May 2001

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 536 No. 2

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  217.  Ms Clune  Information on Deirdre Clune  Zoom on Deirdre Clune   asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development  Information on Joe Walsh  Zoom on Joe Walsh   if his attention has been drawn to the fact that 517 tonnes of chicken were imported from non-EU countries in 2000; the provisions he has in place to ensure the safe production and delivery of such products to markets here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13572/01]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (Mr. Walsh): Information on Joe Walsh  Zoom on Joe Walsh  Under EU legislation, third countries wishing to export poultry products to the EU must satisfy the European Commission that their legislative frameworks and control regimes offer equivalent guarantees to those in place in the EU. In particular, third countries must furnish to the Commission on an annual basis detailed residue monitoring plans, together with results of testing under such programmes. The Commission also carries out inspection missions in third countries to verify implementation of control measures. Where the Commission is not satisfied with the regime in place in a third country, its authorisation to export to the EU may be withdrawn.

Imports of poultrymeat have become a significant feature of the industry and I understand price attractiveness is an important consideration. My preference would be that the industry should use native raw material to the greatest degree possible but it is the case that a considerable quantity of these imports are processed into finished meal products and re-exported.

The Irish poultry industry is expected to expand production and demand is forecast to increase also.

The main conditions for imports into Ireland are: advance notification to my Department of consignments; the goods must be accompanied by veterinary certification or, in certain cases, a commercial document; the goods must come from an approved establishment, for example, slaughterhouse, cutting plant or cold-store which has been approved by the European Commission; the goods may be subject to inspection by officials of my Department.

Imports of poultry meat products are selected for sampling on a regular basis to monitor the health status of the product. Under arrangements agreed between the Food Safety Authority of Ireland and my Department, 1,200 samples of imported poultrymeat are being tested to check for the presence of illegal residues. It must be borne in mind, however, that particular imports cannot be specifically targeted for monitoring as Ireland, being a member of the European Union, is obliged under EU legislation to allow the free circulation of legally imported goods within the EU. Goods detected as not being in compliance with the veterinary control checks may be detained for further examination and if necessary destroyed.

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