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Thursday 18 July 2019

Russian pet food `sold here for human consumption'

By MARTHA KEARNS PET food intended for Russia ended up on a Clondalkin supermarket shelf and was bought for human consumption, a Dail...

PET food intended for Russia ended up on a Clondalkin supermarket shelf and was bought for human consumption, a Dail committee was told yesterday.

The tinned ``beef in juice'' was approved by the Department of Agriculture although subsequent examinations showed it contained no beef at all, Deputy Pat Rabbitte told the Public Accounts Committee.

``It was produced for the Russian market as pet food yet it ended up in a Clondalkin supermarket shelf,'' he said. ``It had no label to say it was not fit for human consumption and it was bought by one of my constituents for her own consumption.''

Mr Rabbitte produced one of the green tins, which bore the words ``Emerald - Beef in Juice'', to show members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

He said examinations of the contents of the tin by Teagasc showed that it, in fact, did not contain any beef at all but a mixture of pork and chicken.

The Secretary General of the Department of Agriculture John Malone said the product was intended for export to Russia between 1993 and 1996. Surplus produce had been sold to an individual as pet food and this individual sold it on to the shops.

It was not the fault of the producer who immediately withdrew the product after it was discovered that it was on sale.

Mr Malone admitted that the tin should have had a label on it to say it was not fit for human consumption. But the department only approved the content of the tin and not the label as it was not within their remit.

``When we tested it originally it was found to contain a mixture of poultry, pig meat and beef. But because of the heat and pressure put on tins it is often discovered that after a number of years that there is, in fact, no beef left in the product,'' Mr Malone explained.

He said the department had ``no hand, act or part in this product ending up in Clondalkin''.

Fianna Fail's John Dennehy said whoever was responsible for the product ending up on Irish shelves should be pursued vigorously.

Mr Malone denied misleading the committee in his responses to queries about past irregularities in the department. He was responding to comments from former PD leader Des O'Malley that he was not giving the full picture.

``I refute totally and with the greatest of vigour that I set out to mislead this committee. I don't think it is fair comment to imply that I provided replies to gloss over issues or to present information that could mislead the committee,'' said Mr Malone.

One of the issues raised involved a forged veterinary certificate provided to Mr O'Malley as Minister for Industry and Commerce in 1989. While the document had not been forged by the department, none of its officials brought it to the attention of anyone until it came to light at the Beef Tribunal.

``I think that it is not satisfactory and I don't think it should have been allowed or sought to be glossed over by the secretary general or the department,'' Mr O'Malley said.

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