IFA says 29% of pork items were wrongly sold as Irish

Farmers’ association to meet with butchers to emphasise need to stock Irish produce

The IFA  bought products such as back rashers, loin chops, back bacon and ham fillets in independent butcher shops and supermarkets in Wexford, Galway, Cork and Cavan.  Photograph: Getty Images

The IFA bought products such as back rashers, loin chops, back bacon and ham fillets in independent butcher shops and supermarkets in Wexford, Galway, Cork and Cavan. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Almost one-third of pigmeat sold as Irish was found not to be so when its DNA was tested in a programme run by the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

The association bought products such as back rashers, loin chops, back bacon and ham fillets in independent butcher shops and supermarkets in Wexford, Galway, Cork and Cavan in December.

Before purchasing, the butcher was asked if the product was Irish and in all cases the customer was told that it was Irish.

However, when 91 products were tested, 29 per cent had DNA that did not come from the Irish boar database. This database was set up by the IFA as a type of pig paternity test and contains the DNA of every Irish boar serving sows in the State.

Of the 26 non-Irish products, 25 were sold by independent butcher shops and the other product was bought in a supermarket. IFA pigs and pigmeat committee chairman Pat O’Flaherty said these findings highlighted a very serious issue and showed customers were still being misled about the provenance of pig meat products.

‘Blatant misleading’

The IFA has not named the outlets that sold imported pigmeat products as Irish. Mr O’Flaherty said the organisation was meeting with these butchers in an effort to increase transparency and to encourage them to stock Irish produce. New samples will be taken from the shops after a certain period to see if products being sold as Irish are, in fact, produced in this country.

Mr O’Flaherty said the IFA wanted to support local businesses. “We appreciate that the local butcher is under pressure,” he said. “However, that is not an excuse to mislead the consumer on the origin of their meat.”

The DNA-testing programme was carried out by Identigen, the company that previously tested beef products for the Food Safety Authority of Ireland and discovered the presence of horse DNA.