IFA ‘disappointed’ as testing shows consumers being misled
A DNA testing programme carried out by the Irish Farmer’s Association has confirmed that half of the pigmeat products being sold as Irish are not Irish after all.
The IFA have said that consumers continue to be misled by manufacturers and that there is a disappointing level of support for Irish pig farmers.
From almost 300 samples that were collated and sent to IdentiGen for cross-checking with the Irish boar DNA database, 52 per cent of products are not Irish.
The IFA DNACertified Programme for pigmeat was established to combat misleading labelling and to provide reassurance for producers and consumers on the origin of pigmeat on the Irish market.
Brands such as J Crowe & Sons, Thurles Bacon, Glensallagh (Lidl), Bradleys and Templetuohy Farm Fresh Foods are confusing consumers by using labels that suggest they are using Irish pigmeat when the results show non-Irish product had been used in some cases.
In one case – Thurles Bacon — a product didn’t display a plant number, which is illegal.
J Crowe & Sons, a member of the Love Irish Food campaign was found to be using their logo on imported pigmeat.
IFA president John Bryan said the products “masquerading as Irish” were undermining the huge investment Irish farmers have out into traceaility and quality control. Wording on labels such as “produced in Ireland” or listing Ireland as the country of origin is not illegal, but does not mean the pork is Irish.
“It is obvious these manfacturers are setting out to mislead the customer,” said Mr Bryan.
Among the other findings are that one of Ireland’s two major indigenous retailers, Dunnes Stores, fares poorly in the test results for its own St Bernard brand, with only half of its samples matching the Irish database.
IFA Pigs and Pigmeat Chairman Pat O’Flaherty criticised Dunnes Stores for using the slogan “better because we’re Irish” while failing to support Irish pig farmers. “The idea behind this pilot campaign is to help consumers make informed decisions when buying pigmeat products and to increase the sales of Irish product in the domestic and export markets,” said Mr Flaherty.
He added he had no problem with Spanish, Danish or British pork being sold in Ireland but questioned why they marketed the products as “Irish” when put on supermarket shelves here.
“It is unacceptable that companies and retailers are using imported pigmeat in their products. In addition, some companies and retailers are relying heavily on imagery and branding that would lead the consumer to believe they are buying Irish when the reality is they are being conned into believing a product is Irish when our DNA testing has proved this is not the case,” said Mr O’Flaherty.
The IFA said it will lobby Love Irish Food for better regulation of the labelling system to ensure customers are actually getting pork that is born, reared and slaughtered in Ireland.