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McEntee Opens Beef Safety Conference

Opening a conference on improving beef quality and safety, Shane McEntee TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, with responsibility for Food Safety, highlighted the continuing need to maintain high standards in the European beef chain saying that "we must continue to focus on maintaining the highest standards when it comes to food safety and quality, because it is these elements that underpin the already excellent reputation of Irish beef  in an ever-more challenging market environment."

The conference is being organised by Teagasc at its Ashtown Food Research Centre to showcase the results of an EU-funded international R&D project called ProSafeBeef.  This is an integrated five-year project which started in March 2007 and involves 41 leading research and industrial organisations operating in 18 countries.  Teagasc researchers will present some of their recent work on new approaches to monitor and assure beef safety.  The Industry Demonstrations on Thursday will provide conference participants with a unique opportunity to see how the research outputs from the project can be applied within the beef industry.  New methods for predicting beef quality, new technologies for packaging to further enhance safety and quality as well as new detection methods that are now being used in Ireland and across many European countries will be demonstrated.

In his address, Minister of State McEntee urged the industry to apply best practice when it comes to food safety, and utilise the project’s findings in areas such as novel products and new technologies to meet and anticipate market requirements. The imperative of being competitive in a global market, he continued, should lead the industry to a renewed emphasis on gaining competitive advantage by concentrating on quality differentiated products or by adopting technological innovations. "Investment in product quality and safety is paramount in promoting and protecting the reputation of Irish beef in worldwide markets", the Minister added that "there is a growing beef supply deficit in the EU combined with a growing global demand for animal protein, but market growth cannot be achieved at the expense of quality and safety."

Referring to the format of the conference, Minister McEntee commended the priority being given to knowledge transfer, a key element underpinning the objective of Food Harvest 2020. In addition to the scientific conference, he noted that the programme includes a stakeholder demonstration event to take place on Thursday, 9 February which will feature presentations, practical demonstrations and allow participants to meet directly with researchers.

The Minister concluded by commenting that the science-based approach to the food chain utilised by the ProSafeBeef project complements the research programme being funded by his Department to stimulate an innovative and sustainable domestic food sector.  This programme, known as the Food Institutional Research Measure (FIRM) provides funding for various projects intended to create a base of knowledge and expertise in safe product development throughout the agri-food sector including the beef industry. In line with the Food Harvest 2020 strategy, his Department recently invited applications for a new round of research programmes that the Minister expects "will feed the pipeline for future innovation and commercialisation across the agri-food sector".

PR 22/12 Photo - 08.02.2012

Dr Geraldine Duffy, Teagasc Ashtown with Shane McEntee TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and Professor Gerry Boyle, Director Teagasc, at a major international conference on beef "Advancing Beef Safety and Quality through Research and Innovation" which started yesterday and continues today at the Teagasc Food Research Centre, Ashtown, Dublin this week. The two day "Prosafebeef" conference involves 41 leading international beef research and industrial companies from 15 countries across Europe, North and South America and Australia, many of whom will present their research at the conference.


Date Released: 08 February 2012