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Written Answers - Food Labelling

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 755 No. 1

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 214.  Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan  asked the Minister for Health Information on James Reilly Zoom on James Reilly  the number of breaches of food labelling in respect of traceability and other standard that have been identified in each of the past four years to date in 2012; the action, if any, taken thereafter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7461/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on James Reilly Zoom on James Reilly Responsibility for the enforcement of food labelling legislation rests with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) and its official agents, which include the Health Service Executive (HSE), the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), Local Authorities (LAs) and the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA). Traceability figures are counted separately to food labelling figures as they also encompass other areas of food safety. In 2008 the HSE, carried out 18,068 food labelling and 7,031 traceability inspections which identified 2,866 and 552 non-compliances respectively. In 2009 54,177 food and 12,194 traceability inspections identified 8,425 and 2,335 non-compliances respectively. In 2010, 52,571 food and 15,947 traceability inspections identified 7,079 and 2,422 non-compliances respectively. Full data for 2011 is not yet available nor is data for 2012. I will arrange for the FSAI to contact the Deputy directly when this information becomes available.

The HSE follows up on all non-compliances with the food business operators to ensure future compliance. In the other official agencies, food labels are checked at production level as part of routine food controls. The number of inspections specifically on food labels is not separately recorded.

DAFM Egg and Poultry Inspectors verify compliance with labelling and the marketing standards for eggs and poultry from primary production through to retail. In 2008 DAFM undertook 1,409 inspections in poultry producer establishments to verify compliance with these standards for poultry, of which 28 non-compliances were identified. In 2009 DAFM undertook 1,432 inspections in these establishments and identified 20 non-compliances. In 2010 DAFM undertook 1,359 inspections in these establishments and identified 7 non-compliances. FSAI has also carried out, in co-ordination with the official agencies, labelling surveys on specific aspects of the nutrition and health claims legislation, allergen labelling, fish and fish products and gas-flushed chicken fillets.

Following on from the inspections the official agencies undertake appropriate enforcement action with the food businesses. They also verify that compliance is achieved. As already indicated above in most cases breaches of labelling legislation do not pose a serious risk to public health and compliance with the legislation is done through the provision of advice to the food business and appropriate changes to the food label.

In May 2009 a prosecution was taken by the FSAI against a food business in Galway for breaches including the Labelling of Fishery and Aquaculture Products Regulations 2003. One 2009 HSE prosecution cited offences under the 2006 Country of Origin of Beef Regulations [203]and a further prosecution cited the Beef Labelling Regulations 2000. In 2010 four HSE prosecutions cited offences under labelling legislation including the general labelling, country of origin of beef, fish labelling and beef labelling regulations.

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