Chicken is the most popular meat on our dinner tables
VIRTUALLY all the chicken consumers buy in restaurants, sandwich bars and cafes is imported.
In fact, we're munching our way through a staggering four million imported chicken fillets every single week.
Some 90pc of the chicken served up by catering establishments here is imported from outside Ireland, yet legislation to tell people where it comes from is still years away, a report from state research body Safefood has revealed.
Farmers last night demanded action to stop consumers being misled about where their chicken comes from.
Chicken is Ireland's most popular meat, with consumers here eating 26kg a year each, and around 30pc of that is in the catering sector where imports dominate, according to Safefood's 'Consumer Focused Review of the Chicken Food Chain'.
While supermarkets had rowed in behind the Irish poultry industry, with most of the chicken they sold being Bord Bia quality-assured Irish produce, it was a different story in the catering sector, said Irish Farmers Association poultry chairman Alo Mahon.
Some operators attempted to undercut the Irish market and pass off imports as Irish, he said.
"At food service level in restaurants, hotels, petrol stations and serving counters there is no transparency on the origin of the chicken served," he said.
While legislation was in place to show where all beef came from, this was lacking for white meat.
Safefood said consumers believed locally produced chicken to be safer, but EU legislation on this was not due till 2015.
"This choice cannot be made by consumers eating chicken outside the home as there is still no requirement on caterers to label the source of their chicken," said Safefood scientific support manager Dr Aileen McGloin.
Safefood also noted that consumer preference for white meat meant Ireland could not produce enough chicken from its flock to meet demand, as consumers eat 21 breasts for every leg.