‘Buck passing on desinewed meat costing food producers dearly’ – Ritchie

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Wednesday, July 11th, 2012
SDLP South Down MP Margaret Ritchie has spoken of her shock at information received by her office which indicates that the Stormont Ministers for Agriculture and Health have not engaged in consultations regarding the EC directions regarding the reclassification of desinewed meat. The European Commission has directed that desinewed meat from sheep, cattle and goats should be classified as mechanically recovered meat, which cannot contribute to the meat content of any product which uses it. Ritchie, who sits on the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee at Westminster, said: “I have made representations to the relevant ministers, including the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, as to what involvement the relevant Stormont ministers have had in the response to the moratorium on desinewed meat. The responses I have had indicate that the NI Secretary has not discussed the matter with Stormont colleagues and the DARD minister, Michelle O’Neill, has not asked for any consultation or discussion.” “Added to this, before making his response to the issue, Stormont Health Minister Edwin Poots did not consult his own scrutiny committee at the Assembly. The moratorium on desinewed meat threatens many livelihoods in the agri-food sector, most noticeably in the food production division of the sector, where manufacturers are losing a lot of money by having to source and use more expensive cuts of meat in order to meet the requirements for meat content.” Ritchie added, “It is important that wholesale buck-passing does not become the norm and that rigorous and fulsome consultation is entered into so that, at industry and government level, we can fight this reclassification to the benefit of the agri-food sector of the North without sacrificing consumer health.”
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