Pork Crisis 'Reassured' Foreign Trade

As a top butchers' group moved to reassure consumers on the safety of Irish pork, the Minister for Agriculture has pointed to the ironic conclusion of this week's food safety crisis that rather than harming Irish food's image abroad, it has been enhanced.

He said that the Government's insistence on prioritising public health during the pork contamination crisis has in fact helped reassure foreign customers that Irish produce is safe.

At the same time as the Associated Craft Butchers of Ireland is encouraging consumers to buy Irish meat as it returns to supermarket shelves around the country today, Minister, Brendan Smith was speaking in Paris where he held meetings with some of the major French retail buyers of Irish pork and beef.

He said that the Irish pork industry was given a boost by an assessment from the European Food Safety Authority.

This is despite the controversy this week when Irish pork was removed from the market after dioxins were discovered in slaughtered pigs thought to have eaten contaminated feed.

He noted that all pig products will now carry a new label confirming they are safe to consume and have no link with contaminated feed.

The Government and Bord Bia have since started targeting some of Ireland's most important overseas markets to bolster confidence with major buyers.

The Minister's presence at a reception in the Irish embassy in Paris was in an effort to spread the message that Irish producers were back in business.

France is Ireland's second biggest export market for premium beef, with 55,000 tonnes a year.

Minister Smith said last night that he believed the Government's attitude towards the problems it faced, and its prioritisation of public health issues during the crisis, had helped retain French confidence in Irish produce.


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