One of the bodies approved to issue horse passports has said a proposed national database of passports is a political expedient and will not improve equine traceability and human health.

The Irish Warmblood Studbook said the proposed database is "a creature of political necessity".

Its director, Tom Reed, said it would be a "band-aid", rather than the response needed to protect the food chain.

He said the database will not improve human health or stamp out fraud and he said new control measures and regulations are needed.

Separately, the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association has said cheap food is the driver behind the horse meat scandal.

It said big businesses cutting corners has resulted in most of the current problems.

ICSA General Secretary Eddie Punch questioned the ongoing focus on primary producers.

He said the real problem had clearly been identified much further down the food chain.

However, the Department of Agriculture said it is satisfied that robust procedures are in place to ensure that only horses with valid identification are accepted for slaughter.

It said it has only had two tampered passports returned to it in the past year.