The National Beef Assurance Act established the National Beef Assurance Scheme. The purchase of the scheme was to establish standards under which animals, carcasses and meat intended for human consumption are to be produced, processed, traded or handled under which feedstuffs shall be manufactured or traded, continue and develop animal tracing systems for the collection of data on the computerised monitoring system.
The legislation applies to persons occupying premises specified and engaged in processing, trading or otherwise handling of animal carcasses or meat intended for human consumption or the manufacture of trading feedstuffs. The legislation covers farmers, dealers and the export of live animals. It also covers abattoirs, assembly centres, meat plants, establishments engaged in manufacture or trading, and feeding stuffs.
It is not lawful for a participant to produce, trade or handle animals, carcasses or meat for human consumption or trade in feeding stuffs unless the holder of the certificate of approval. It is not lawful to sell animals, carcasses or meat or feeding stuff to a participant who does not hold a certificate of approval. It s not lawful to buy or receive animals, carcasses or meat for human consumption from any participant who does not hold a certificate of approval.
It is not lawful for a person who operates a food business to buy or receive or have animals, carcasses or meat for human consumption from a participant who does not hold a certificate of approval. Each of the above is an offence. It is a defence to prove that the person believed on good and reasonable grounds the person had the requisite certificate.
Regulations provide for the seizure, detention and destruction of animals, carcasses, meats and feeding stuff produced or in possession of persons in contravention of the legislation.
Certificate of Approval
A person engaged in the production, trade or handling of animals, carcasses or meat for human consumption must apply for a certificate of approval under the Act. It is an offence to commence any such business without certificate of approval.
The Department may make regulations regarding procedures for inspection of buildings and premises to ensure compliance with the legislation.
The minister must maintain a register of participants who have been granted a certificate of approval. The register contains details of:
- The name and address of the holder;
- Types of holding or premises which it covers;
- Name or letter assigned to each certificate holder;
- Date of certificate;
- Such other details as minister shall direct;
Certificate of approval are not transferable.
There are provisions in relation to refusal of renewal and refusal of a certificate of approval and revocation of a certificate of renewal. Revocation may be made on the basis of contravention of the legislation or other grounds. Procedures apply to revocation including notice of the proposed revocation. There is provision for refusal of a certificate to the Circuit Court within 21 days.
The minister may make regulations regarding the registration and identification of animals. In particular provision may be made for:
- Registration of birth, death or other events relating to animals;
- Manner in which animals are to be identified and persons responsible for identification;
- Manufacture, importation, distribution, possession, control, use and disposal of ear tags, microchips, identity cards and such other identification means as may be prescribed;
- Provision regarding tampering and removal of the same;
- Provision for registration by identification by electronic means;
- Information to be kept on identification;
- Importation movement, sale, possession, control, seizure, disposal of animals not identified or incorrectly identified;
- Possession of instruments used for removing of identification or reusing it;
- Tampering with forgery, falsification of identification methods;
- Use of any such identification cards or document in order to give false or incorrect identification.
The Department may make a census of animals for the purpose of confirming location, category and ownership of animals within the State. The Department may specify general nature of information required, frequency to be provide, participants who must provide it.
Administration and Enforcement
The minister may pursuant to regulation direct participants by notice in writing to complete the requisite questionnaires and supply the requisite details. Failure to do so is an offence.
Provision is made for a computerised cattle monitoring database. The purpose is to monitor the movement of animals. A keeper and transporter of animals must notify movement of animals from premises. Information must be kept on the database.
If an authorised officer is of the opinion that animals, carcasses, meat or feeding stuffs is in or on any premises, vessel or other place intended for human consumption or animal consumption in contravention of the Act, the authorised officer may seize and detain the same or serve a notice on the holder of the certificate requiring that the animal, carcass, meat or feeding stuffs must not be moved without a moving permit or requiring it to be destroyed or disposed of. Failure to comply with the notice is an offence. An appeal may be taken against the notice to the District Court.
An authorised office may issue a permit authorising movement as may be specified in respect of the movement of animals, carcasses, meat and feedstuffs in the permit.
Authorised officers and members of An Garda Siochana have powers of enforcement under the legislation. They may enter any premises, vehicle etc where it is reasonably suspected that the production, processing, trading or storage of animals, carcass or meat for human consumption or trading feeding stuffs is taking place. They may search and inspect records on any such holding or place. They may remove copies of records.
The persons in charge must produce all requisite records and permit them to be inspected. They must provide information reasonably required in relation to production, processing, trading, handling of animals, carcasses or meat for human consumption or manufacture or trading of feedstuffs. It is not permissible to enter a private dwelling without a warrant from the District Court.
Offences are provided on summary conviction and indictment for breaches of the legislation. Summary conviction up to £1,500 and 12 months or both, conviction on indictment up to £100,000, imprisonment of up to five years or both.
Provision is made for service of notices under the legislation. Wherever a licence is revoked under any other fresh meat legislation the certificate of approval under the scheme is deemed revoked.
Premises & Processes Regulations
The Minister has power to make regulations regarding:
- Management and supervision of holdings and premises;
- Construction and maintenance of premises, equipment, facilities;
- Sanitation and operational hygiene of holdings;
- Documentation and operational procedures relating to sourcing and intake of animals, carcasses, meat feeding stuffs and materials;
- Production stages;
- Manufacturing stages;
- Storage and refrigeration;
- Wrapping, packaging and distribution;
- Product withdrawal.