The work of Veterinary Officers who monitor and control our food supply chain and ensure the food we eat is safe and that animal welfare standards are fully complied with has been commended by Mairead McGuinness MEP and first Vice-President of the European Parliament.
Speaking at the annual dinner of the Veterinary Officers Association conference in Athlone, she said: “Members of the VOA are the guardians of the integrity and safety of the food supply chain.”
“Their work, which is largely invisible to the wider public, is absolutely vital for us as consumers and for ensuring that the food products we export meet the highest possible standards.
“Like so many sectors, the work and role of VOA members will be impacted by Brexit.
“The uncertainty over Brexit, about when the UK will leave the EU and under what conditions is making it difficult to plan for all eventualities.”
However, the MEP said it is important that as a country we plan carefully for every possible outcome.
Members raised concerns about the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s (DAFM’s) recruitment plans to employ veterinarians ahead of Brexit.
Last year the Government announced plans to hire extra customs and veterinary inspectors to meet the new demands that will arise following the UK’s departure from the EU.
There is growing uncertainty about the actual date of Brexit and a number of inspector positions have still to be filled.
“The VOA is concerned about timing and if new staff members will receive adequate training for the task in hand.
“It’s an issue I will be raising with the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed,” she told them.
The work of the VOA members will be ever more important to provide assurances for the quality and safety of food for consumers and trading partners.
About the VOA
The VOA represents veterinary practitioners registered with the Veterinary Council of Ireland who are employees of a Department of State, including those on approved career breaks or on secondment
There are currently approximately 255 members of the VOA.