The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has announced details of a new approval mark for small meat plants to comply with recent regulations regarding meat products.
According to the authority the display of a triangle mark on meat products will allow retailers and caterers to readily identify produce that originates from small domestic meat plants. The new approval mark enables small meat producers and meat cutting plants supplying the national market to promote the fact that their facility is independently approved and inspected. To date, only large plants manufacturing meat products for export could secure an approval mark granted by the Department of Agriculture and Food.
Peter Whelan, director of service contracts at the FSAI, said retailers and caterers could now be fully reassured that similar food safety standards exist at both domestic and export approved plants.
The initiative is part of a continuous improvement process being undertaken by the domestic sector in Ireland. The triangle mark is for small meat plants supplying the domestic market and the oval mark is for larger export plants that may also sell produce on the local market.
"This is good news for small meat producers as they now have a quality mark that allows them to demonstrate to their customers that their product is as safe as the product from export-approved plants," Whelan said. "Retailers and caterers can be reassured that meat products carrying the triangle mark are of equally high standard as products carrying the oval mark. The only difference between the two marks is that the triangle relates to products for sale on the domestic market and the oval relates to products that are on sale on the export market, and sometimes on the domestic market. All premises are inspected by official agencies working under service contract to the FSAI."
The FSAI website outlines guidelines for industry regarding both the approval process and the printing of the new triangular mark.
Whelan concluded that the adaptation of the scheme to include small producers is a welcome development. "Previously, small meat plants were at a disadvantage as they had no mark on their products. Some major buyers including supermarkets and multiples insisted on the oval mark as this was the only available indication that meat products were produced in approved premises. However, this approval process was only available to meat plants producing meat for the export market. It is vital to reduce the chances of food poisoning outbreaks that we know have occurred in unapproved premises in the past."