Food consumers need answers following pig meal washout
Thankfully the recent Irish bacon disaster has passed its worst at this stage and pig producers are once again doing what they know best and that is providing us consumers with some of the very best bacon in the world.
However, the consequences of this bacon disaster will take more than a short while to overcome and meanwhile we consumers are entitled to a few answers as to why a small percentage of Irish bacon was contaminated with dioxins in the first place.
1). We want to know who in the Department of Agriculture made the decision not to check the Millstream Recycling Plant in Clohamin Mills in Co Carlow?
2). Why was the decision taken by officials in the Department not tocheck the food facility in question.? I am saying this because as it has not been checked this year then a decision must have been made not to do so.
3). We as consumers also want to know if other similar facilities are been checked on a regular basis, and if not, why not? And if they are being checked regularly as the law suggests, why was an exception made with Millstream?
4). If the so-called food tracing system is so effective then why did it take so long for the product from a large number of pig producers to be released, when it was known for days that they had nothing whatsoever to do with the contamination? Even the bacon from organic producers was held up for days.
5). As the buck stops with the top Department of Agriculture officials and the Minister for Agriculture should they not be reconsidering their positions at the present time. If a number of these people had been employed in the private sector and had caused a particular company millions of euro worth of losses, there is little doubt but that they would have joined the ever-lengthening dole queues at this stage and rightly so.
I do not know why it took so long for the Government and the Department of Agriculture to pay compensation to the pig producers and processors all of whom have suffered greatly because of this recent disaster. As the department was at fault there was never any question but that they would have had to pay up.
Farmers in general are extremely angry with this recent failure by the Department of Agriculture, particularly when the same department officials appear to be crawling over farmers almost on a daily basis.
One farmer said to me recently that almost every time that a fancy car drives into his farmyard a Department official steps out to check out some innocuous situation that in a practical way would not make any difference. A number of these officials who at the end of the day are just carrying out the orders made at the top by power-hungry employees with an attitude that would not be accepted in many other parts of the EU.
I am wondering who is calling the shots in the Department of Agriculture at this stage. It should of course be the Minister for Agriculture - but I wonder is he? Many would agree that the primary role of the Department of Agriculture would be to help farmers and the farming community in general as far as possible. I am sure that the Minister for Trade John McGuinness and his officials would reckon that they are doing whatever they can for trade in Ireland at the present time. Why is it then that many farmers are convinced that some officials in the Department are not as helpful as they might be while waiting to catch them out with something as harmless as a genuine mistake on an application form.