Consumers kept in dark as processors ignore "Origin Ireland" logo on pork and bacon product

by 5m Editor
8 December 2004, at 12:00am

NORTHERN IRELAND - IFA Pigs Committee Chairman, Pat O’Keeffe today (Tuesday) accused major National brands and retailers of being complicit in conning Irish consumers on the origin of pork and bacon products.

He said that these major brands and retailers were deliberately avoiding the use of the new ‘origin Ireland’ quality assurance label, which was a major opportunity to distinguish Irish pork and bacon produce and reassure consumers on the origin of well-known brands. He said the Bord Bia ‘origin Ireland’ logo which incorporates the distinctive tri-colour was introduced in late October on all pigmeat products from pigs that were born, reared and slaughtered in this country.

However an IFA survey of retail outlets has revealed an extremely poor uptake of the logo with the distinctive new ‘origin Ireland’ label absent from the majority of products on display. “The results of our survey are disturbing for both producers and consumers alike and show the indifference of major brands and retailers to distinguish quality Irish product from the 48,000 tonnes of pork and bacon expected to be imported into this country in 2004.

He said given this level of imports, the ongoing reluctance of well-known brands to declare the country of origin on the retail pack is totally unacceptable.“ The Chairman said the introduction of the ‘Origin Ireland’ logo was the culmination of a major effort by producers in this country to get recognition for the origin and quality of their product while providing essential consumer information.

Unfortunately the next links in the supply chain at processor and retail level are placing little or no value on this commitment. “It is clear that while Irish producers offer the consumer quality, safe and traceable product at a fair price, Irish processor’s and retailer’s continue to scour across Europe and beyond for pork and bacon product and are then afraid to declare its origin when it is presented to the consumer.“

“The IFA Pigs Committee has highlighted the gaps in national labeling legislation which allows big business the opportunity to con the consumer. Minister Coughlan must now act to protect the future of Irish pig production and the consumer. There is no point in setting high standards for native production and then leave a loophole for cheaper unidentified imports be sold off as Irish for the benefit of a small number of highly profitable companies.“

“Because of the alarming poor uptake in the ‘Origin Ireland’ logo identified in these store checks, IFA will be employing a recognized firm to carry out an extensive survey in the next two months to verify these results when the details will be published in full in a new ‘name and shame’ campaign,“ concluded Mr. O’Keeffe.

Source: Irish Farmers Association - 7th December 2004

5m Editor