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'Revelation huge step back for industry'

THE crisis over horse meat in burgers could deal a hammer blow to Ireland's lucrative food industry.

Irish meat products have built up a huge name internationally for high quality traceable products.

Our meat exports are worth a colossal €3bn a year -- with the overall food export industry topping €9bn last year.

We export 85pc of all our meat products to more than 165 markets around the world.

In the recession-battered Ireland, our reputation for excellence in food is one of most important assets.


But there are now real fears that as the scandal over horse meats goes international our food industry could be hit.

The quality of Irish beef is recognised as one of the best in the world and food marketing organisation Bord Bia have pumped millions into getting this message across.

Hollywood starlet Saoirse Ronan headed up a campaign entitled Origin Green, promoting Ireland's unique sustainability programme.

CEO of Bord Bia Aidan Cotter said the scandal was a massive step back to the industry's reputation.

"This is a deeply disappointing development for our food industry which has been performing exceptionally strongly in recent years," he said this morning.

"Within our €9bn food and drink exports, meat accounts for €3bn -- that's one third of the industry. (Ireland) is the largest exporter of beef in the northern hemisphere."