- Bird Flu
- Countryside access
- Dark Skies
- Eco labels
- EU Environmental
- European Union
- Farming & CAP
- Global Warming
- Green Taxes
- Internet Access
- Irish NGO's
- Natural Resources
- Non-Irish Stories
- Parks & Designations
- Science & animals
- Views & Opinons
- World Summit
// Ireland criticised over controls on making baby food
THE EU Commission has criticised Irish authorities for a lack of safety controls in the production of baby food and infant formula.
A report by inspectors from the commission's Food and Veterinary Office finds evidence of poor hygiene, lax controls, gaps in official supervision and a failure by State agencies to follow important EU regulations at Irish-based baby food and formula manufacturing plants.
In one plant they found that raw milk containing antibiotic inhibitors was being dumped into the sewerage system.
In another factory manufacturing infant formula they found dusty and dirty paper bags in the pre-dump storage area.
Ireland is the largest producer of infant formula in the world, accounting for some 15 per cent of total production. Much of this is exported outside the EU.
However, according to the report, infant and follow-on formula which is being exported outside the EU is not controlled for its composition or tested for pesticide residues or contaminants.
Product sold within the EU is subject to random sampling, but at a low frequency. Just six samples have been officially tested for pesticide residues since 2003. The report, based on an inspection carried out of the five Irish plants in September 2007, says there is a low level of compliance with labelling requirements, with just four infant formula products out of 19 and none of the follow-on products studied complying with the regulations.
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) is responsible for the enforcement of food legislation but it has contracted work in this area to the Department of Agriculture and the Health Service Executive (HSE).
However, the HSE has not been given the powers to enforce three key EU regulations, the inspectors found, while the department has been exempted from enforcing legislation on infant formula and follow-on formula.
"FSAI oversight over the agencies did not effectively address gaps in official supervision over the evaluated sector," the report states. Moreover, the FSAI was aware of some of these gaps in official supervision for a number of years."
Testing for pesticides and contaminants focuses on shop products and does not specifically target the food businesses involved, according to the report.
Some of the laboratories used for analysis were not accredited, and there were shortcomings with regard to the registration and approval of establishments.
The report also criticises the department for allowing manufacturers "unacceptable time-frames" to take corrective action when they are found not to be complying with regulations, "in particular for non-compliance which poses a potential risk to public health".
Responding to the report, the FSAI undertook to audit official controls in the sector and address any gaps identified.
The Department of Health said it would transpose EU regulations in the area into Irish law, and the Department of Agriculture said it would examine procedures and carry out more tests.
© 2008 The Irish Times 7.07.08