DNA results show half of pigmeat tested is not Irish

IFA accuses bacon produces of confusing consumers with labels

Mmmm, sausages... But are they as Irish as they profess to be?

Mmmm, sausages... But are they as Irish as they profess to be?

 

Some bacon producers have been accused by the Irish Farmers Association of confusing consumers by using labels that suggest they are using Irish pigmeat when tests results showed that non-Irish product had been used in some cases.

The IFA commissioned DNA testing company Identigen to test 300 pigmeat samples and compare the results against a complete DNA database of Irish boars.

The results showed 52 per cent of the rashers and bacon joints tested were not from Irish pigs. The IFA said no illegal activity had taken place and retailers were entitled to label non-Irish products as being “Produced in Ireland” if they had processed them further. But it said that customers had a right to know if items were actually Irish products.

IFA president John Bryan said the products “masquerading as Irish” were undermining the huge investment Irish farmers have put into traceability and quality control.

The IFA DNA certified programme for pigmeat was established to deal with labelling issues and to provide reassurance for producers and consumers on the origin of pigmeat on the Irish market.

Brands using the Love Irish Food label must manufacture in the Republic of Ireland and a minimum of 80 per cent of the brand must be made in the Republic.

The Love Irish Food organisation said member companies undertake in their licensing agreements that the source of the raw material they use originates and is produced in Ireland.

Dunnes Stores fared poorly in the test results with only half of its own brand St Bernard rashers and bacon joints matching the Irish database. Dunnes Stores was unavailable for comment.

IFA Pigs and Pigmeat chairman Pat O’Flaherty criticised Dunnes Stores for using the slogan “better because we’re Irish” while failing to support Irish pig farmers.

“The idea behind this pilot campaign is to help consumers make informed decisions when buying pigmeat products and to increase the sales of Irish product in the domestic and export markets,” he said.

He added he had no problem with Spanish, Danish or British pork being sold in Ireland but questioned why these products were marketed as “Irish” when put on supermarket shelves here.

“It is unacceptable that companies and retailers are using imported pigmeat in their products. In addition, some companies and retailers are relying heavily on imagery and branding that would lead the consumer to believe they are buying Irish when the reality is they are being conned into believing a product is Irish when our DNA testing has proved this is not the case,” said Mr O’Flaherty.

In a statement, Lidl Ireland said its Glensallagh own brand was produced exclusively for the chain by a number of Irish suppliers. “We have developed two distinct logos for packaging of our ow- label products - Produce of Ireland and Produced in Ireland. Many Glensallagh products carry the Bord Bia and Produce of Ireland logos as they contain 100 per cent Irish pig meat. Products that are made by Irish suppliers, but that do not contain 100 per cent Irish pig meat, do not carry the Bord Bia logo but instead have a ‘Produced in Ireland’ logo,” the statement said.

A spokewoman for the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) insisted the Irish legislation is very clear.

“Pigmeat products do not have to display the country of origin on the label, unless the absence of this information could mislead consumers as to the true origin of the food,” she said.