Hygiene reforms for local Irish poultry proposed
smaller operations once consultation on a proposed amendment is
Larger processors and suppliers of poultry are governed by European food safety regulations, but smaller operations escape and are overseen by national regulators. The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) yesterday initiated a consultation period to give smaller poultry producers and interested parties an opportunity to their voice opinions on the pending legislation. The consultation follows the adoption of European hygiene regulations last year, which established a "farm to fork" approach to food safety. These include requirements for processors to implement and maintain procedures, based on hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) principles, as well as provision for inspection. The proposed legislation will cover small poultry operations, the local supply radius and the slaughter of birds on farms. European hygiene requirements would impose additional costs on smaller producers, but FSAI research has shown that smaller producers understand and implement HACCP princimples already. Micheál O'Mahony, chief specialist of veterinary public health at the FSAI stressed the importance for small poultry producers, butchers and small retailers to engage with the FSAI to ensure that the proposed legislation is appropriate and effective in governing this aspect of their food operation. "Producers of small quantities of poultry are food business operators and the food they produce should meet safety requirements," he said. "This will be achieved by ensuring small quantities of poultry meat supplied to the final consumer, whether supplied directly by the producer or from a local retail establishment, meet requirements set out nationally." For the slaughter of poultry, the general requirement is that the activity takes place in approved slaughterhouses. However, the FSAI acknowledges the close existing relationships between consumers and farmers slaughtering small quantities of their own poultry for local supply. The proposed national regulations incorporate all aspects of poultry preparation including slaughter, plucking, carcass dressing, evisceration and delayed evisceration. Regulations will also cover cutting and boning, wrapping and packaging and the transportation of poultry meat. The consultation document is available from the FSAI and the closing date for submissions is Monday, 23 April 2007.