The Irish Farmers’ Association has announced that sample testing as part of the ‘DNA certified’ programme for pigmeat has begun, which will expose misleading labelling and provide an assurance for producers and consumers on the origin of pigmeat.
IFA National Pigs and Pigmeat chairman Tim Cullinan said pig producers are in a loss-making situation, which has the industry on the brink. “Widespread mislabelling is part of our difficulty and has led to the development of the DNA Certified Programme. Pig producers and consumers will be secure in the knowledge that solid science is determining the precise origin of pigmeat. The successful implementation of the Programme will effectively put an end to misleading labelling in the retail, processing and catering sectors.”
The chief executive of Bord Bia Aidan Cotter said, “Bord Bia welcomes this unique initiative which enjoys full support from Irish pig producers, particularly at a time when the industry is experiencing difficulty due to the rising cost of feed. The DNA programme will become an integral requirement of the Bord Bia Pigmeat Quality Assurance Scheme and will be included as part of both farm and factory audits. The DNA traceability programme will further strengthen the rigorous checks in Quality Assurance from farm to fork.”
IFA will publish results on a regular basis to give a cast-iron guarantee to consumers and safeguard the livelihoods of our pig producers, who are under severe pressure because of rising costs and pressure from imports that are passed off as Irish.
The ‘DNA Certified’ Programme will allow for the scientific assessment of the origin of pigmeat products by tracing actual pigmeat product rather than associated labels. Employing the expertise of IdentiGEN, which is pioneering the development of DNA based traceability solutions globally, the Programme will involve the profiling of all boar samples using a proprietary panel of DNA markers and the development of a database that will contain the DNA of every Irish boar serving sows in the country.
Non-compliance will be recorded when a number of samples from the same source are found not to match the database, highlighting the presence of non-Irish pigmeat. The IFA will collect meat samples labelled as Irish on an ongoing basis, which will be checked against the database. If they do not match up, the mislabelling will be exposed.
“This DNA-certified initiative will provide the highest level of traceability that exists anywhere in the world. Pig producers here operate to the most stringent standards as part of the Bord Bia Quality Assurance Scheme. The partnership with IdentiGEN will safeguard Irish pig producers by ensuring that processors guilty of passing off imports as Irish will be exposed.”
Commenting on its role, Ciaran Meghan of IdentiGEN said, ”We are delighted to be partnering with the IFA on this groundbreaking initiative. It will introduce a new standard of integrity to the Irish pigmeat sector, ensuring confidence in the origin of all pigmeat marketed as Irish. Globally this is the first time that a national DNA database of all breeding stock has been established to provide unequivocal guarantees of product origin, potentially creating new opportunities to market Irish pork internationally.”
• Irish Farmers Association