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Food safety is the cornerstone of the food industry

Speaking this morning at the opening of the Teagasc Global Food Safety Conference in Dublin, Minister of State Shane McEntee said that food safety is the cornerstone of the food industry; it is a non negotiable element of the food production system.

"It is appropriate that we are hosting this conference in Ireland as we have an excellent reputation for food safety.  We are proud of that reputation but we are equally conscious that we can never be complacent when it comes to maintaining such a reputation. "

"My Department has a long and proud record in the development of the food industry and ensuring that consumer health and safety are at all times protected.  Over the last century, it has overseen the transformation of an industry based on subsistence farming to a modern one which not only provides high quality food to our own population but for millions around the globe.  In that time, farming systems have radically changed, food processing and distribution methods have been revolutionised and the food chain has, accordingly, become more complex.  We have invested heavily in traceability and animal identification systems over the years and this investment is now paying dividends."

Minister McEntee went on to say that Ireland's economic recovery will be export-led and agriculture and the agri-food sector will play a key role in that recovery, in terms of both export generation and job creation.

"The Government intends to drive a very ambitious growth agenda for the agri-food sector and to increase the value of exports from the sector to €12 billion by 2020.  That means increasing the volume of food production in Ireland by a third over the next decade and adding value to our food production of 40 per cent. "

"This is part of the industry-developed strategy which is focused on making sure that the agri-food sector develops to its full potential, contributes significantly to the national economic recovery and is fully integrated into the smart global economy.  Its underpinning strategy is to build on the highest standards of food safety by adding sustainable and animal welfare attributes to the production of food which this country is well placed to meet."

Date Released: 23 October 2012