Celebrity chef calls for Bord Bia to be scrapped

LEADING Irish chef Richard Corrigan has called for the abolition of Ireland’s food industry champion claiming Bord Bia’s stamp was being put on food coming in from abroad.

However, the food body dismissed Corrigan’s claim.

The celebrity chef had invited journalists to his recently opened Dublin city centre brasserie yesterday and warned that a radical overhaul of Bord Bia was needed. Otherwise the Irish food promotion board should close, he argued.

“We need a new body and it should be from the food industry itself, a private body and not-for-profit organisation. That would take the lead and the Irish consumer, for a start, when they’re spending their euro, would know exactly what they are buying.”

Corrigan said the food board is prevented under EU law from promoting exclusively Irish produce at home. This results in its quality assurance brand being stamped on food that comes from abroad, he said.

According to the outspoken restaurateur, this means there is no guarantee food products are solely Irish.

“The assurance represents a bog standard European stamp, so what’s special about it? We need to ring-fence the industry north and south with a set of standards.”

The Meath-born chef also believes the promotion of Irish food abroad and the promotion of it at home should be separated.

“Ireland has a unique capacity to produce the safest and highest quality food in Europe, instead we are sailing in the opposite direction,” added the chef.

In a statement yesterday, Bord Bia rebuffed Corrigan’s claims that its assurance of food produce was inadequate. “All products bearing the Bord Bia quality assurance mark are sourced completely from within the island of Ireland. This has continued to be the case over some 20 years during which the schemes have evolved. The suggestion that the organisation might apply its funding to promote products from outside Ireland and carrying an Irish label is false. It is misleading to consumers and extremely damaging to an industry that has come under enormous pressure in a very difficult marketing environment” said Bord Bia’s chief executive Aidan Cotter.

The Irish Farmers Association said the Bord Bia quality assurance scheme was essential in “securing and maintaining” premium market access for top quality Irish food produce in Ireland and across 160 EU and international markets.

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