Ritchie hits out at response to EC decision on processed meat

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Friday, June 15th, 2012
SDLP MP for South Down Margaret Ritchie has criticised the Department for Agriculture and Rural Development’s response to the reclassification of disinewed meat. Speaking following a meeting in Westminster with the British Poultry Council, who work with some largest food producers in the North of Ireland, Ms Ritchie stated: “It is clear that the European Commission’s interpretation of the current legislation and their subsequent action will have the effect of reducing the value of food products for local companies and farmers without any proven food safety benefit.” “This decision was made in March and Minister Michelle O’Neill has been extremely slow  to act which will place a severe pressure on Northern Ireland’s local producers. I have written to the Minister seeking to clarify why she was so far behind the game in addressing this problem and to ascertain what action her Department has subsequently taken. The lack of co-ordination between her Department, the Food Standards Agency and the European Commission is deeply worrying.” She added, “The agri-foods industry is a vital part of our economy and our local food producers need a Minister who will stand up for their interests at a time when they are already facing severe financial pressures.”
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