Centralised Horse Passport System key to maintaining Irish Beef’s International Credibility – BREEN

April 24th, 2013 - Pat Breen

Welcoming the publication of the results of the EU wide testing programme for equine DNA in Beef products and phenyklbutazone (Bute) in horse carcases, which reported that in all of the results of the 50 DNA tests on Irish Beef products under the EU Programme were negative, Clare T.D. and Chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade Pat Breen said today (Wednesday) that the next step in maintaining Irish Beef’s International Credibility is the introduction of a centralised system for the issuing of horse passports which he said would prevent the issuing of duplicate passports.

“Yesterday’s results of the EU wide testing programme for equine DNA in beef products and phenylbutazone (bute) in horse carcases are testament to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney T.D. leadership in continuing to ensure that Ireland is at the forefront of both highlighting and solving this fraudulent mislabelling of meat.

The results show that in Ireland, all of the results of the 50 DNA tests on Irish Beef products under the EU programme were negative. In relation to the EU Programme for bute testing there were 16b positives from 3,115 tests. In Ireland of the 840 tests carried out on horse carcases for bute, only one was positive.

These results are a boost for the reputation of Irish Beef; however, the next step in maintaining our International Credibility is to introduce a centralised system for the issuing of horse passports. At present, there are 8 organisations approved for this purpose. The problem in recent years is that the number of horses being slaughtered has increased significantly. Around 2,000 horses were slaughtered in 2008 compared to 24,000 slaughtered last year. The introduction of a centralised database would be used at abattoirs to assist in verifying the authenticity of horse passports for the equine presented and to record its date of slaughter.

The Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine Minister Simon Coveney T.D. supports the introduction of a centralised system; however, he has advised me that EU regulations would have to be amended to facilitate this. The EU Directorate General for Health and Consumers intends to submit a proposal to the Council and European Parliament which would facilitate the transfer responsibility for the issuing of passports from Passport Organisation to the competent authorities and a formal Commission propos is expected in the second half of the year. In the meantime, Minister Coveney has already begun consultations with the passport issuing agencies to ensure that our existing procedures are enhanced pending the adoption of the proposed amendment to the EU legislation.

The Beef Industry is one of our most important industries. In 2011, Ireland exported an estimated 510,000 tonnes of beef worth approximately €1.8 billion. It is important that international community continue to have confidence in Irish Beef. The introduction of a centralised horse passport system which would prevent the issuing of duplicate passports thereby reducing the risk of horses banned from slaughter entering into our food chain would be important step in this regard.

ENDS.

PQ Reply from the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney T.D. attached underneath for your information.

Parliamentary Question No.990

To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he has any plans to introduce a centralised system for the issuing of horse passports; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
– Pat Breen.

For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 16th April, 2013.

Ref No: 16164/13

REPLY

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine: (Simon Coveney)
The identification and registration of equidae is governed by EU Council Directives 90/426/EEC and 90/427/EEC and Commission Regulation (EC) No 504/2008. The latter regulation, which came into effect on 1 July 2009, provides that equine animals registered after that date must be identified with a passport and a microchip. This regulation also provides that, in the case of equines which are eligible for entry into a studbook, the passport must be issued by the organisation which is officially approved to manage the studbook for the breed in question in accordance with EU Directive 90/426/EEC. There are at present 8 such organisations approved in Ireland.
I indicated in the context of my Department’s report on Equine DNA and the Mislabelling of Processed Beef that my ultimate objective is to establish a central passport issuing authority for which the Department would have direct control and under which agents would be approved to issue passports. I also indicated that EU regulations would have to be amended to deliver this centralised arrangement. In the meantime, the EU Directorate General for Health and Consumers has indicated in its recently published Action Plan for dealing with the fall-out from the horsemeat issue that it intends to submit a proposal to the Council and European Parliament for the transfer responsibility for the issuing of passports from Passport Issuing Organisations to the competent authorities. A formal Commission proposal is expected in the second half of 2013.
My Department has commenced consultations with the passport issuing agencies with a view to enhancing the existing procedures relating to equine passports pending the adoption of the proposed amendment to EU legislation.