Lamb scheme is latest step along assurance road

10 October 1997

Lamb scheme is latest step along assurance road

Quality assurance,

traceability and hygiene

were to the fore at the Irish

Ploughing Championships.

Emma Penny reports

QUALITY assurance is gathering momentum in the Irish Rep-ublic, with the introduction of a scheme for lamb producers and a new one being proposed by Irish vets.

The Bord Bia – whose functions are like the MLC and Food from Britain combined – has already set up beef and pig quality assurance schemes, and one for lamb is about to be launched.

According to John Keane, who is responsible for quality assurance in the Bord Bia, discussions are underway about setting things up.

"All schemes link producers and processors. Meat plants join up and are responsible for inspecting and auditing farms which supply them to ensure they come up to standard."

While trained inspectors from processors inspect farms, the Bord Bia will also carry out random checks to ensure that standards are maintained, says Mr Keane. "We have also set up schemes so they can be revised to take new requirements into account. The beef scheme has been revised twice since its inception in 1991, while that for pigmeat – initially aimed at improving eating quality – now takes welfare into account."

But under new quality and farm assurance proposals from the Irish Veterinary Association, producers would be inspected by vets. Westmeath county council vet Sean OLaoide says the aim is to have one scheme to replace the plethora of meat and dairy schemes.

"Among those supporting the move are the Bord Bia and Department of Agriculture," says Mr OLaoide. "The Irish Farmers Association was also involved, but is starting to back-pedal and says it would prefer something less mandatory. Farmers will also pay for the scheme, and pay their vet for inspection."

He says the new set-up would involve farm auditing based on welfare, keeping a register of animal movements, labelling concentrates and retaining invoices. "We are also pushing for electronic tagging of all animals," he adds.

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