Scheme to fight misleading country of origin labels on pork products

IRELAND has scored a global first with the release of a DNA pigmeat certification programme that will counteract misleading country of origin labels on retail pork products.

The IFA and Dublin-based food traceability experts IdentiGEN unveiled their joint DNA Certified programme, which will bring DNA markers from every Irish boar into one central database. Farmers, food producers and AI authorities will also participate.

IFA president John Bryan said: “This DNA-certified initiative will provide the highest level of traceability that exists anywhere in the world. Pig producers here operate to the most stringent standards as part of the Bord Bia Quality Assurance Scheme. This partnership with IdentiGEN will safeguard Irish pig producers by ensuring that processors guilty of passing off imports as Irish will be exposed.”

Non-compliance will be recorded when a number of samples from the same source are found not to match the database, highlighting the presence of non-Irish pigmeat.

The IFA will collect meat samples labelled as Irish on an ongoing basis, which will be checked against the database. If they do not match up, the mislabelling will be exposed.

IdentiGEN co-founder and director Ronan Loftus said: “There were some concerns in the food sector that some products were masquerading as being Irish under a number of guises. This ground-breaking initiative will introduce a new standard of integrity to the Irish pigmeat sector, ensuring confidence in the origin of all pigmeat marketed as Irish.

“This will be the world’s first national DNA database programme of this scale. Some other countries want to know more about tracing the origin of where the meat they are consuming is produced.

“It is good that an Irish company is delivering this technical advance internationally. It will also create new opportunities to market Irish pork internationally,” he said.

The programme will allow for the scientific assessment of the origin of pigmeat products by tracing actual the product rather than the associated labels.

IFA national pigs and pigmeat chairman Tim Cullinan said: “Pig producers and consumers will be secure in the knowledge that solid science is determining the precise origin of pigmeat. The implementation of the programme will put an end to misleading labelling in the retail, processing and catering sectors.”


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