Tuesday 24 October 2017

Editorial: Integrity of food industry must be maintained

Painkiller Bute was discovered in some cattle at a show
Painkiller Bute was discovered in some cattle at a show

Irish agriculture has proved very resilient when it comes to what might be kindly termed recurring anomalies in the industry. Since the spotlight was first shone on agriculture in modern times with the Beef Tribunal we have had a number of what can only be called serious and potentially very damaging episodes – BSE, pork meat contamination and, more recently, the horse-meat scandal which erupted in January 2013.

If this is allowed to continue, something is going to come along that will cause irreparable damage to a major export industry, which is only just back in some markets that were closed due to BSE. Irish agriculture is worth over €10bn a year in exports, there are 6.9 million cattle in the country. Beef is the biggest element in the agriculture industry, worth almost €3bn.

It is worrying that the Department of Agriculture is now engaged in an investigation into the use of a carcinogenic painkiller Bute, which is banned from the human food chain. This came about after a blood test at a cattle show. The Department of Agriculture will only say that at this stage that such an investigation is on-going, "but there are no food safety concerns at issue".

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