Handling of the pork crisis not good enough, says wholesaler Connolly

The handling of the recent pork crisis by the Government has been lambasted as not good enough by Fine Gael councillor and pork wholesaler Cllr Tom Connolly. The Claremorris based councillor was not mincing his words when he spoke to the Mayo Advertiser this week. “The whole handling of the situation has been messed up from the beginning. While food safety is of the utmost importance to everyone involved in the industry the way this has been dealt with has been a massive blow to the industry in a time of economic turmoil. It’s been almost a week since the recall was announced and now only today (Thursday, December 11 ) are things getting back to normal. But you’re still looking at it being the middle of the week next week before things get back to normal.”

The product recall has had a massive effect on Cllr Connolly’s business. “Since this was announced I’ve had to go and take everything back from the people I supply and then return the stock to the processors I buy off and then get credit for them at my own cost, things are tight enough economically at the minute as we all know, this couldn’t have come at a worse time for the industry.” The compensation package that was agreed late on Wednesday night will help ease some of the burden, but Connolly wants to make sure that the smaller processors and wholesalers get their fair share. “We’re still waiting to see the finer details of this package, but it’s important that the smaller processors and wholesalers are taken care of, not just the big groups.”

The damage caused to the international image of the pork industry is something that Connolly feels needs to be repaired very quickly. “Along with the beef industry, pork is one of the leading exports in the Irish agri-business sector and it has been banned in not just other EU countries this week and the export sector is a huge part of the whole market and it could take a while for that whole sector of the business to build back up again. Everyone has seen the massive lay offs that took place across the country during the week because of the announcement, which the EU then came on and said was not needed as all the products were perfectly fine, it’s been mishandled all the way by the government.”

Ballina based, Fianna Fáil , TD Dara Calleary stated that he also wanted to see the smaller pork producers and wholesalers get taken care of under the deal agreed by the Government on Wednesday night. “I have every sympathy for the producers, distributors and farmers affected by this incident and I know that the Government and Minister Brendan Smith will do everything they can to assist them at this time. Minister Smith is still in discussions (with the industry ) and I have asked him to give strong consideration to small producers and distributors in the process.”

As part of the green light given to the restarting of the pork industry Deputy Calleary confirmed that all products will be clearly identifiable as being safe to eat. “The controls, which were being developed by the Minister and his officials since Sunday, allow those involved in the pigmeat industry to resume the supply and sale of Irish pork and bacon products. These products will all carry a special label developed by An Bord Bia, which will confirm for the consumer that the product is perfectly safe to consume and verified by them as having had no contact with the potential dangerous feed.”


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