DNA sample meat testing in Ireland reveals surprising results

DNA testing in butcher’s shops in Ireland has shown that more than half of the sampled products were not Irish.

The DNA-certified pigmeat traceability programme was introduced by the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) “to identify imported pigmeat and stop consumers being misled about the origin of pigmeat products”.

IFA National Pigs and Pigmeat Committee Chairman Pat O’Flaherty said he was disappointed with the results of the country-wide testing, explaining that “over half (51%) of the 120 pork and bacon products – back rashers, bacon joints and pork chops – sampled in 11 shops in nine different locations around the country were not assigned to the Irish boar database in IdentiGEN, which means the products are not Irish”.

The IFA has been working with the Association of Craft Butchers (ACBI) and its members to improve transparency, and agreed to support the ‘Certified Craft Butchers Programme’, in which certified butchers were to display the country of origin of their meat products in store. However, the tests showed that this country-of-origin labelling was also infrequent.

O’Flaherty added: “The level of imported product identified by the DNA testing is compounded by the fact that the country of origin was not displayed in any of the butchers’ stores audited. Over 80% of the locations are part of the Certified Craft Butchers Programme, yet none carried country-of-origin labelling”.

In response to the results, the ACBI said some butchers might be buying imported meat that had been passed off as Irish. It added: “We are calling on everyone that is conscious of buying Irish to ensure that the supply chain is transparent. IFA will continue to test products and highlight anomalies that mislead consumers.”

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