The 2014-15 Food Fortress program has been reviewed by Queens University and their report was presented to a meeting for members in Armagh City Hotel on November 26th.

Dr Simon Haughey of the Institute of Global Food Security at QUB reported that the 2014/15 program which comprised 47 feed businesses had maintained a close surveillance across the principal contaminants which threaten the food chain and had indicated no major issues to threaten animal welfare or human health. His report did, however indicate that the background level of mycotoxin had risen throughout the period and testing should focus particularly on feeds intended for species which have a low tolerance for these toxins.

Robin Irvine, Food Fortress Coordinator, Una Davey, InvestNI and Dr Simon Haughey, Queens University, Belfast.
Robin Irvine, Food Fortress Coordinator, Una Davey, InvestNI and Dr Simon Haughey, Queens University, Belfast.

He reported that the compliance of members in submitting samples on the due date was 96%. He proposed that 100% compliance should be the target and businesses failing to submit samples could not claim to be Food Fortress members.

As of 1st January 2016 businesses which fail to submit a sample by the due date will be given a “yellow card” status – a second failure will trigger a “red card” and the business will be removed from the list of Food Fortress members. In discussion it was suggested that it would be helpful to have the product label supplied with each sample. This provides information which can be useful in helping to trace the source of contaminations detected.

Robin Irvine, Food Fortress coordinator gave an update on progress.

With over 70 feed businesses now in membership the safety of our milk, meat and eggs is assured as never before. Around 4 million tonnes of compound feed including all the mills in Northern Ireland, 13 businesses in Southern Ireland and 4 in England are now covered by the scheme. He also pointed out that this gives 100% coverage of the compound feed consumed in Northern Ireland.

The level of communication and sharing of information with the DARD feed inspectorate was very pleasing. A protocol has been agreed, and signed by both parties, on the sharing of risk assessments and test results. This will ensure better detection and more effective management of contamination events that may occur.

Further development of the scheme would include sampling of imported feed materials, sampling of native grains delivered to feed mills and a program for home mixers.

A new Food Fortress company was being registered and a steering committee covering a cross section of the membership would be set up to direct progress.

He welcomed Mrs. Una Davey from InvestNI and acknowledged the assistance of that organization through their collaborative networks program.

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