Dáil Éireann - Volume 452 - 16 May, 1995
Written Answers. - Use of Illegal Substances in Meat Production.
Dr. Upton Dr. Upton
27. Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry the total number of bile samples screened for the presence of illegal growth-promoting chemicals; and the total number of samples which showed positive presence of these compounds. [8305/95]
Mr. Aylward Mr. Aylward
64. Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry the progress, if any, he has made in combating the use of illegal substances in meat production. [8798/95]
Dr. Upton Dr. Upton
76. Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry the number of carcases which had been detained as a result of an investigation which found that an angel dust type chemical was present in the carcases at a Leinster meat plant in the week commencing 23 April 1995. [8306/95]
Dr. Upton Dr. Upton
193. Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry the total number of carcases which were examined for the presence of illegal growth promoter at a Leinster meat plant in the week commencing 23 April 1995, as reported in an Irish newspaper (details supplied). [8299/95]
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. Yates) Ivan Yates
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. Yates): I propose to take Questions Nos. 27, 64, 76 and 193 together.
Since November 1993, 149,090 samples of bile taken from bovine animals at slaughter plants have been analysed for the presence of illegal growth promoters. The test involved is a “screening” process which is a system  designed to indicate the possibility that illegal substances were present in animals tested. Of the samples tested 2,355 were suspect positive for the illegal growth promoter, clenbuterol. This represents 1.56 per cent of the samples tested.
Deputies will be aware that under EU rules, all member states carry out a random sampling programme for illegal substances. Each country's programme is approved annually by the Commission. This country carries out a far higher level of testing than required by EU rules. I am committed to continuing the programme of intensive testing for illegal substances at farm and factory level as well as at points of distribution of veterinary medicines.
All meat is subjected to ante and post-mortem examination at meat plants to ensure that such products are fit for human consumption. In addition officers attached to the veterinary medicines task force in my Department have commenced a programme of intensive spot checks on carcases at point of slaughter. The objective of this operation is to make every effort to ensure that meat products from Ireland are of the highest quality.
One such investigation commenced at a Leinster meat plant on 5 April, not the week commencing 23 April. A total of 326 carcases have been examined since then; 188 of these gave rise to a suspicion that illegal substances had been used and were sampled and detained. The substances found in some samples were illegal hormonal growth promoters not an angel dust type chemical; analysis of samples is continuing.
I wish to reaffirm what I said to this House on 28 March in response to a question from Deputy Hugh Byrne. It is a matter of serious concern to me that a small minority of beef farmers continue to use illegal substances. My policy in this area is clearcut; where abuse is encountered evidence is gathered, those involved are prosecuted and every means open to me is pursued to have them brought to justice.
The measures I have outlined have  resulted in the Irish beef industry being subjected to a higher level of surveillance for residues of illegal growth promoters than any other member state and has enabled my Department to compile a comprehensive record of suspected abusers and target enforcement resources at the small minority who continue to endanger public health and, by their actions, attempt to sabotage this country's economy.
Dáil Éireann 452 Written Answers. Use of Illegal Substances in Meat Production.