Tuesday, 5 November 2002
Dáil Eireann Debate
213. Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the reason for the implementation of the ban on the sale of seaweed meal as a direct supplement on farms, home mix; if his attention has been drawn to the results of some verifying bodies in relation to the nature of the product, including sample results from the Marine Institute, Plymouth University, and other world recognised authorities on the subject; the status of seaweed meal in other EU member states; the way in which they comply with the guidelines as set down by EU Directive 95/65/EEC; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19831/02]
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): In order to protect animal and human health, the content of naturally occurring undesirable substances and products in feedstuffs is regulated under Council Directive 1999/29/EC. This directive governs the use of such substances and products in all member states. Under the directive, materials containing high levels of undesirable substances, which are to be incorporated into animal feedstuffs, may only be sold to approved establishments which have the expertise and equipment to handle such materials. The seaweed meal referred to contains high levels of arsenic and consequently may only be sold to such approved establishments. These approved premises are permitted to use the seaweed in the manufacture of animal feed for sale to farmers once the arsenic levels in such manufactured feeds does not exceed the maximum permitted levels of arsenic as laid down in the directive. There are 14 approved establishments in this country to which the seaweed product in question can be sold.
In view of the findings of certain studies in relation to arsenic in seaweed meal, my Department has officially requested the European Commission to refer the matter to the EU Scientific Committee on Animal Nutrition for an opinion on the potential risks for animal and human health and, if these are considered to be negligible, to fix a higher maximum permitted level for arsenic in seaweed meal in the directive. We are awaiting the opinion of the scientific committee on this matter. However, for the present, my Department and the competent authorities in other member states are required to implement the current EU rules.
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