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Technology allows all Irish bacon products to be traced back to its Irish boar

SuperValu has announced that it is to become the first retailer in the country to have access to the world’s first national DNA database for pigs. The DNA TraceBack system, developed by IdentiGEN, will allow the retailer to ensure all its bacon is undeniably Irish, reassuring the customer of the authenticity of the product.

Recognising potential weaknesses in paper based traceability systems discovered post the pigmeat dioxin crisis, the Irish Farmers Association partnered with IdentiGEN to build the world’s first National DNA databank of boars. These products have in the past been vulnerable to co-mingling of Irish and non-Irish derived pork.

In a first for the Irish bacon and grocery retail industries, SuperValu which has always been committed to using 100% Irish pigmeat, will use this system on all its rashers, ham and bacon, both prepack and over the counter, to provide the consumer with a further guarantee that these products have been born and bred in Ireland, from pigs specifically reared to deliver exceptional quality and taste.

All Irish breeding boars are DNA tagged, which is then used to generate a DNA-ID, a unique code which identifies the animal, its off-spring and subsequently all produce from these animals, ensuring it is 100% Irish.

The program now forms part of the Bord Bia quality assurance program, and both Bord Bia and IFA collect and test samples from SuperValu products, on a monthly basis to ensure compliance with country of origin labeling.  This provides the customer with absolute confidence that SuperValu bacon products are fully traceable through all stages of the supply chain.

Commenting on the announcement, Martin Kelleher, Managing Director SuperValu, said “This system is a first for the Irish food industry and provides SuperValu with a unique point of difference – one that underpins the robustness of our supply chain and our commitment to quality. This demonstrates the real partnership between us, our supplier (Oliver Carty Limited) and the Irish farming community. The fact that SuperValu is the first retailer in the country to introduce this DNA TraceBack system for bacon is a testament of our desire to lead the retail market in the area of food safety and quality and our partnership approach with the IFA.” Kelleher added.

Ronan Loftus, Co-Founder & Commercial Director of IdentiGEN Ireland, said, “To further assist industry communicate the robustness of their traceability systems, both the IFA and IdentiGEN offer a self-certification program whereby retailers and their suppliers can submit samples according to a statistical sampling program to verify the Irish origins of their pigmeat. Once their supply chains are shown to be compliant, they can market this to consumers through the use of the DNA TraceBack logo, using the latest science to underscore their commitment to Irish production. The approach SuperValu is taking is gold standard in terms of traceability and really differentiates the brand and its products from its competitors. The introduction of this DNA TraceBack system for bacon products by SuperValu underlines the retailer’s commitment to exclusively sourcing quality assured meat products, while supporting Irish farmers.”

Chairman of the IFA National Pigs and Pigmeat Committee, Pat O’Flaherty said “The idea behind this system is to increase the sales of Irish product in the domestic and export markets by providing the consumer with a cast-iron guarantee, backed by science, that the product is of Irish origin.”

In addition to this latest food trace innovation, SuperValu branded beef, poultry, lamb and pork is 100% Irish, with Kantar Market Data confirming that SuperValu has the largest market share in these sectors. SuperValu’s 2012 sales included €182m worth of Irish meat and poultry.  This is the equivalent of 78,000 cattle, 130,000 lambs, 12.1m chickens and 191,000 pigs.

SuperValu serves over 2,000,000 customers every week, has 198 stores nationwide and is committed to local employment and supporting local suppliers. 75% of everything on SuperValu’s shelves is sourced or produced in Ireland, contributing over €1.6 billion to the Irish economy and helping to sustain almost 30,000 Irish jobs in the farm, food and retail sector.

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