Food labelling regulations and meeting new market challenges for
Irish Food Producers
24th May 2017: A Symposium for Irish Food Producers focusing on Food Labelling Regulations and Meeting New Market Challenges has been hosted by the Taste 4 Success Skillnet in partnership with UCC Food Industry Training Unit, senior food technologists and member companies from the industry.
The opening address was given by Dr. Paul Cotter, Teagasc Food Research Centre, Cork. The Symposium is very timely for Irish Food Producers and key expert speakers provided information on the various strategies their agencies have in place to help Irish food business identify and cope with the challenges of Brexit, whilst understanding and addressing the impact of food allergies and resulting consumer health issues.
Speaking at the launch Dr Pamela Byrne, CEO, Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI), outlined the importance of accurate and clear labelling of all foods so that consumers can make informed choices. Food businesses must comply with the legal requirements and ensure that consumers are not being misled about the true nature of the food they are purchasing. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse. The FSAI is a resource for food safety and hygiene information and we urge all food businesses to take full advantage of the advice that is available to them.
Food hypersensitivity and the impact of food allergies on child and adult health is a key focus for new food development and innovation. The future is about providing accurate and reliable food allergen Labelling – which is not just a declaration, but a necessary obligation and key to protecting the health of consumers who have food hypersensitivity – that is food allergy, food intolerance or coeliac disease. ”Food businesses must acknowledge that a lot of their customers need to avoid foods for health reasons and this contributes to the overall demand for ‘free-from’ foods”, said Dr James McIntosh, toxicologist with safefood. Dr McIntosh emphasised that, while the labelling legislation covered just fourteen food allergens, many other foods are known to cause food allergy or food intolerance. Good communication with the customer is essential for ensuring their safety.
Lucille O’Connor, Food Safety & Quality Development Coordinator, Musgrave Retail Partners Ireland, said “The retail sector plays a key role in promoting food safety, healthy food choices, correct labelling, and in addressing the challenges of “at risk customers” through training and education of our retail colleagues, in particular, in the importance of understanding food allergens, cross-contamination, areas for control.” As well as providing legislative guidance to SuperValu and Centra independent retailers, Lucille provides guidance on Food Safety and Quality to artisan and small producers that take part in the Food Academy programme which is jointly sponsored by SuperValu, Bord Bia and the LEO.
“Traceability, tide to table is a unique selling point for Keohanes of Bantry”, said Liz O’Leary, Innovation Lead. Keohanes Seafoods are principle fish suppliers to major Irish retailers and own the multi-award winning and successful Keohane Seafoods brands. “Traceability is the ability to systematically identify a unit of production, track its location, and describe any treatments or transformations at all stages of the production, processing and distribution. “To be able to trace the product from the moment it has been caught, through to landing, warehousing, sorting, to the consumer table, through our innovative labelling process, is something we are very proud of”, said O’Leary.
“Helping prepare Irish food companies for Brexit is a key focus for Bord Bia”, said Karen Tyner, Senior Manager Prepared Foods Division. Bord Bia is using the insight from its Brexit Barometer to understand the potential impacts on currency volatility, people, customs & tariffs, supply chain and challenges to existing trade and market opportunities. Bord Bia encourage all food businesses to contact them directly for support and advice.
The Symposium discussed some of the key issues facing Irish Food Producers around Brexit and new market requirements. Dr. John Colreavy, Director of Meat Technology Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, said “Bracing for Brexit, is the top agenda for Enterprise Ireland. It is the most significant economic challenge of the past 50 years. It has implications for all sectors. Enterprise Ireland’s objective is to encourage companies to prepare and plan”. A Brexit Scorecard has been developed, which is an online tool to help self-assess risks and opportunities. A Be Prepared Grant, is a financial support to help develop a Brexit Action Plan, and Brexit Roadshows consisting of a series of regional events to help Irish Food Producers prepare and plan for Brexit are in the process of being organized by Enterprise Ireland.
Navigating legal and regulatory challenges in new markets, and creating new opportunities requires appropriate legal advice, specific to the country and context. “The UK is, and will continue to be, reliant on food imports and Ireland is often regarded as part of its local market”, said Maree Gallagher, of MGA, EU Food Lawyer and an expert in crisis management advising FMCG companies on product recall and reputation management across the EU. Irish food producers need to keep up to date on Brexit, understand the challenges, seek and create an impetus to identify and consider new markets for their Irish products. Food businesses looking beyond the UK and the EU need to engage local legal experts to help advise on import requirements. “The sooner you engage with a local legal expert, the easier business will be. No-one wants to find out that a container of food product has been held up in customs because of some small item not checked off on the import documentation”, advises Maree, who has a global network of food law experts. Irish food producers looking at new markets should first find out and understand the legal import requirements of that new market.
Michael Slevin, HR Director, Rosderra Irish Meats and Promoter of Taste 4 Success Skillnet said, “The Symposium has provided excellent advice about new progress in food labelling, allergen identification and management, protecting the consumer, and best practice in food safety and health. With Brexit on the horizon, the support structures and opportunities for our food and drink sector businesses to link in with local agencies and seek out experts to help them address Brexit and new market challenges, is clearly important. As we emerge from the challenges of the recession, we face huge new challenges posed by the UK, our closest trading partner, leaving the EU. The expert speakers at the Symposium have provided excellent information and advice of the supports that are in place, or are being put in place, and that need to be communicated to the wider food and drink producer sector. Taste 4 Success Skillnet will play its part in ensuring that the information about these support services and structures are disseminated as far and wide as possible through its membership and stakeholders.”
The Taste 4 Success Skillnet is funded under the Training Networks Programme, an initiative of Skillnets, funded from the National Training Fund through the Department of Education and Skills.
For further information, please contact:
Bridie Corrigan Matthews
Taste 4 Success Skillnet Network Manager
Phone: 043 6687289
About Taste 4 Success Skillnet:
The Taste 4 Success Skillnet is an enterprise-led learning network in existence since 2000. It funds training and up-skilling for companies and job-seekers across the food, seafood, and beverage sectors. It currently has 210 active member companies ranging from large multinationals, to indigenous large, medium and small companies. 90% of its members are small micro organizations, and artisan and craft producers. The Taste 4 Success Skillnet has won National Training Awards in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 for training both employees and job-seekers.
Taste 4 Success Skillnet has been funding and sourcing training for the food, seafood, and beverage sectors for many years. Subject matter training experts come from Ireland, UK, and EU to deliver training to member companies and job-seekers.
The Taste 4 Success Skillnet is funded by member companies and the Training Networks Programme, an initiative of Skillnets, funded from the National Training Fund through the Department of Education and Skills.
Established in 1999, Skillnets supports and works with private enterprise in Ireland and their
employees to address their current and future skills needs. Skillnets provides high-quality
training and development through 63 learning networks in a range of regions and sectors.
Skillnets is actively supported and guided by national employer and employee
bodies such as Ibec, Small Firms Association (SFA), Construction Industry Federation (CIF),
Chambers Ireland and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU). Skillnets receives funding
from the National Training Fund (NTF) through the Department of Education and Skills
(DES). The organisation model, with its deep roots in enterprise, has enabled Skillnets to
make a substantial and enduring contribution to the national skills agenda and to the
competitiveness of Irish enterprise.
For further information: www.skillnets.ie
About The Food Industry Training Unit:
The Food Industry Training Unit (FITU) was established in 1993 by University College Cork. This was in recognition of the importance of continuing professional development (CPD) in the food and related sectors. The FITU services the part-time CPD and training needs of people working in, or associated with, the food and related industry sectors and is an example of UCC’s readiness to evolve and respond to the needs of industry. The activities of the FITU reflect national industry needs and are a response to meet industry’s challenge to develop the quality and skills levels of its workforce. Since their inception, FITU programmes have been offered not only in Cork but also at national venues and over the years, the participants have been drawn from a wide geographical area throughout all four provinces.
For further information please contact:
Food Industry Training Unit Manager,
Food Industry Training Unit