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Minister Coughlan welcomes planned inspection visit by Saudi Arabian Beef Experts

The Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan T.D., today announced that a team of experts from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will visit Ireland in early May to inspect Irish food safety and animal health controls with a view to reopening the Saudi Beef market. This follows the successful trade mission in January to Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) led by An Taoiseach and during which Minister Coughlan had positive discussions with the Saudi Arabian authorities.

"The inspection will provide an opportunity for Saudi officials to see for themselves our high standards and controls in food safety and animal health and I believe the visit will be a success and I hope it will lead to the reopening of the market in Saudi Arabia for Irish beef," said Minister Coughlan.

In conclusion, Minister Coughlan said that while over 90% of Irish beef production was exported to EU markets in 2006, it was most important to our beef industry to have the greatest number of high quality world markets. With record beef exports into the high-value Continental market achieved in 2006, this is a clear recognition of an acceptance of the stringent controls in food safety and animal health which exist in Ireland.

24 April, 2007

Date Released: 24 April 2007