Dáil Éireann - Volume 477 - 26 March, 1997

Written Answers. - Labelling of Beef.

[130] 73. Ms Keogh asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry the way in which he and his Department have responded to proposals from the EU Commission to introduce compulsory labelling of beef; if he intends to introduce compulsory labelling and traceability in Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8395/97]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. Yates): The Commission's proposals for an optional labelling system for beef were submitted to the Council last October. Following the delivery of the opinion of the European Parliament last month, the Commission amended its proposal to provide for the introduction of a compulsory labelling system from 1 January 2000. The revised Commission proposal was adopted last week, following some further amendments in the course of discussions in the Council. While the proposal as adopted by the Council provides for the compulsory labelling of origin from 1 January 2000, it also permits member states to waive this requirement in respect of beef sold on their own territory.

In the discussions on the proposal I was concerned to ensure that it would not be discriminatory and that the degree of bureaucracy involved in supervising the system was kept to the minimum necessary to guarantee the accuracy of information being placed on labels. I am satisfied that the regulation as adopted substantially meets these concerns.

I am considering how best to apply the provisions of the new regulation in Ireland in the context of the beef assurance scheme which I hope to have fully in operation in 1998. The new regulations will also provide, as an aid to better animal traceability, for the introduction of a system for the identification and registration of bovine animals from 1 January 1998. I do not foresee any difficulty for Ireland in complying with the requirements of the new system as most of its elements are already in place here under the national tagging and registration scheme which I introduced earlier last year.