Equine database to be set up following horse meat scandal

Minister for Agriculture says 70% of animals registered since 1980 will be recorded this week

Minister for Agriculture, Marine and Food Simon Coveney said he would exepedite the establishment of the equine database. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Minister for Agriculture, Marine and Food Simon Coveney said he would exepedite the establishment of the equine database. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

The Government is to expedite the establishment of a central equine database in the wake of the horse meat in burgers scandal.

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney today said the details of over 70 per cent of equine animals registered since January 1st 1980 would be recorded by this Tuesday.

Details will be held on the Animal Identification and Movement (AIM( system which contains data on cattle, sheep and pigs.

In January, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland informed the public that horse meat had been found in frozen beef burgers.

“Facilities are being put in place during this weekend (4-5 May) to receive and record equine animal registration details received from Passport Issuing Organisations,” Mr Coveney said.

“The information on the central equine database will be used by my Department’s veterinary staff to supplement the current checks at slaughterhouses.”

He said contacts would continue with the passport issuing organisations that had not provided data “with a view to having all the relevant data on the central equine data base at the earliest opportunity”.

Mr Coveney said he would like to see the establishment of a single passport issuing organisation.

The EU Commission has announced that it intends to submit proposals to the Agriculture Council of Ministers and the European Parliament to amend existing legislation to facilitate departments or other state agencies in taking over responsibility for issuing passports, he noted.

His department was awaiting these proposals.

In the meantime, there will be no change in the status of the passport bodies. The Minister said he intended to work with those organisations to introduce a new system.

“I have acted swiftly, as I promised to do in the immediate aftermath of the equine DNA issue and will move to the final stage in the establishment of a single passport issuing agency once EU legislation provides me with the overarching legal base to put this into effect.”

Following the announcement by the FSAI about the horse meat found in burgers, initial inquires put the spotlight on three processing plants, two in Ireland and one in the UK.

But it soon became evident the problem was not confined to Ireland and Britain and most countries in Europe became involved.

Foodstuffs including beef burgers, beef meals, pies, meat balls, kebabs and chicken nuggets were removed from sale. One recall alone in the Netherlands involved 50,000 tonnes of meat – over 500 million burgers.