Irish Porky Pies: DNA Testing of Pig Meat Exposes Pork as Not of Irish Origin
Have you been telling porkies? It seems that, unwittingly or not, Irish pork producers may have been telling porkies. Incredibly it has been found that one third of Irish pork that has been subjected to DNA testing is not actually from Ireland, a big surprise to the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) who carried out the survey. A total of 91 pork products had been sold as ‘Irish’ and subjected to DNA testing under the ‘DNA-certified pig meat traceability programme’. The IFA discovered that 26 of those checked (29%) were not listed in the Irish boar database.
The IFA condemned the producers of Irish pork and have said this is ‘misleading consumers’. Mr Pat O’Flaherty of the pig meat committee is very proud of the DNA traceability programme for pork and that Ireland was the first to set up such a programme. “Basically we can test any pig meat and tell if the daddy was Irish or not”, said Mr O’Flaherty before adding that boar stud farms on both sides of the Irish border have signed up to the Republic’s DNA database. Mr O’Flaherty has been farming pigs for 15 years and believes consumers need an ‘informed’ choice when buying food as the standards of production differ so greatly.
DNA Testing in the Fight against Labelling Fraud
The most recent set of tests were carried out in Wexford, Galway, Cavan and Cork. The IFA representative had entered butchers shops in these areas and posed as a consumer, he or she would ask if the pork on display was Irish. Not one butcher admitted the pork products were imported, Mr O’Flaherty said. This does not however exclude the possibility that the butchers did not know the true origin or were under the impression the pork was indeed of Irish origin. The IFA has a vested interest in promoting Irish farmers’ goods over and above all others but they also have a responsibility, says O’Flaherty, to be honest with consumers about where their food is coming from. There is nothing to stop labelling fraud, where food is labelled as ‘produced in Ireland’ when it was only processed or packaged there. Mr O’Flaherty said the lack of prosecutions for food labelling fraud in the Republic of Ireland is terrible and must be changed to boost greater confidence in consumers and the food chain.
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