Irish food safety system
condemned after pork dioxin scandal
of Article: http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/Quality-Safety/Irish-food-safety-system-condemned-after-pork-dioxin-scandal
By Rory Harrington, 29-May-2009
The current system for monitoring and
tracing Irish pork is inadequate and should be overhauled urgently, a
highly critical report from the country’s Parliament has said.
The body’s agriculture committee delivered its damning verdict on
Ireland’s food safety
systems in the wake of the dioxin
contamination of Irish pork
products at the end of last year which cost the domestic industry EUR 100
million, according to the Irish Association of Pigmeat Processors.
Committee Chairman Johnny Brady TD said the Irish pigmeat industry
was hugely important. In 2007, 188,000 tonnes of pigmeat were produced
valued at EUR 368 million, while the industry employed 7,000 people.
“It is because of this significance that the Committee decided to
undertake this investigation into the dioxin contamination incident, with a
view to identifying lessons for the future," he said.
The report declared that the present traceability regime operating
for Irish pork products was simply not working. It said an effective
traceability system would have been able to ensure only contaminated meat
was recalled after dioxin-tainted animal feed was given to pigs on just 10
of Ireland’s 500 pig farms. Instead, the “absence of an effective
traceability scheme necessitated a 100 per cent recall of product for a 10
per cent contamination rate”, said the group.
A committee statement said: “The present system for monitoring
and tracing Irish pork products is ineffective and significant changes are
required in order to avoid a repeat of the total recall of Irish pork
Government rethink needed
In a wide-ranging review, the committee urged the government to
rethink its proposal to amalgamate the Food Safety Authority of Ireland
(FSAI) with the Irish Medicines Board and the Office of Tobacco Control
amid fears the merger “could endanger the reputation and focus of the
The current arrangement of numerous agencies responsible for food
safety operating under service level agreements with the FSAI was dismissed
as “not satisfactory” by the members, who also called for the remit
of FSAI to be extended to cover both animal feed and food.
It also condemned as “unacceptable” that the food recycling
centre owned by Millstream Recycling, the firm at the centre of the
contamination incident, was not inspected at all in 2008. It is believed
the contamination was caused by the use of improper oil to power the drying
process in production of animal feed.
However, the committee said it was particularly concerned that even
if the plant had been inspected the problem would not have been discovered
because HACCP programmes have not included oil contamination as a potential
hazard, and there are no EU regulations requiring the sampling of oil used
in feed processing.
“The Committee is at a loss to understand this, and would urge the
rectification of the situation as a matter of urgency”, said the report.
Members also condemned some retailers who have attempted to seek
compensation from producers for loss of profit as well as cost of products