The Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) has contacted the Department of Agriculture to seek an investigation into a recent incident where Bord Bia’s quality assurance (QA) origin Ireland label was used on French potatoes.
The farming organisation has sought the publication of any findings that arise from any such investigation carried out by Department officials.
The IFA’s calls come after Keogh’s Farm of Westpalstown, Oldtown, Co Dublin, confirmed to the Irish Farmers Journal that it had supplied a “small batch” of baby potatoes to some Musgraves stores from 3 January 2023 to 9 January 2023, with packaging wrongly displaying Bord Bia’s label.
The potatoes were of French origin, but had Bord Bia’s QA origin Ireland mark included on the packs, alongside information stating they were of French origin.
Keogh’s Farm stated that the incident had occurred in error.
“Bord Bia get[s] significant State funding from the Department of Agriculture and it is important that the Department satisfy themselves that Bord Bia’s systems are robust across all sectors,” IFA president Tim Cullinan said.
“A thorough investigation must take place now, and the findings must be made public.”
The Irish Farmers Journal received confirmation from Bord Bia that it had conducted an audit on the affected farm last Monday and that the outcome of this inspection would determine what, if any, sanction was to arise from the mislabeling.
Bord Bia said that the results of this audit would remain confidential, but that fines could be levied, even in cases where the misuse of its logo was unintentional.
The IFA president stated that further Department checks into the incident would be needed to ensure farmer confidence remains in QA schemes.
“Irish potato farmers go to great lengths to ensure that they meet exacting quality assurance standards so that their product is eligible for the QA mark,” Cullinan added.
“It is vitally important that consumers and farmers have confidence in Bord Bia’s systems,” he said.
Cullinan also suggested that the mislabeling incident had acted against maximising market returns for Irish potato farmers.
“Irish potato farmers have been seriously hit with a massive increase in the cost of production over the past 12 months. They badly need market returns from the Irish market to be maximised, but actions such as this do the exact opposite,” he said.