Dairy industry 'enhanced' by dealing with salmonella find
Agriculture Minister Michael Creed has claimed the reputation of the Irish dairy industry is "enhanced", despite news of a salmonella detection only publicly emerging more than a month after the incident.
The milk powder section of Tipperary Co-op, in Tipperary town, was closed in September after a strain was detected in a consignment of milk powder.
Salmonella shut down the milk powder production unit at the dairy in September but it has not affected the milk, butter and cheese production at the plant.
The development came as a major trade mission focused on increasing dairy exports is taking place in Indonesia and Malaysia this week.
Despite the detection emerging only this week, Mr Creed said he believed they had dealt with the issue openly and transparently.
"We take these issues very seriously. Under EU law on food production, there's an obligation for food businesses and on the Department of Agriculture to carry out occasional spot checks and routine checks on finished products, ingredients etc. Salmonella isn't an issue to be trivialised," he said.
"When it was brought to our attention, we took all of the appropriate and necessary steps. I'm confident in that context we have done everything right and contacted all the appropriate authorities, including the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) and notified the EU.
"I think our reputation is enhanced by virtue of the fact when issues like this happen there is absolutely no question that we deal with them in an open and transparent way and that builds public confidence in our food systems, so I would hope that there would be no market consequences," he added.
It is understood that about 100 tonnes of the milk powder was affected and that the co-op notified the Department of Agriculture and the FSAI in late September when the incident took place.
Meanwhile, president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association, Pat McCormack - who farms at Greenane and is himself a supplier to the co-op - has expressed "complete confidence" in the procedures and responses of Tipperary Co-op to the detection.
The Department of Agriculture said it was "working closely with the FSAI and the food business operator to ensure that all appropriate action is being taken to safeguard consumers".
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