Irish police probe contaminated pork scare

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(CNN) -- Police are investigating how pork from 10 Irish farms became contaminated with dioxins, forcing Dublin to recall all pork products from pigs slaughtered in the Republic of Ireland.


The farms were found to have used pig feed sold to them by a company called Millstream Power Recycling in County Carlow in the south of the country, Agriculture Department spokeswoman Martina Carney told CNN Monday.

The company, which recycles other foodstuffs to make animal feed, declined to speak to CNN.

Food safety officials traced the problem to "one small animal-food maker" that supplied oil-tainted feed to 10 pig farms in the Republic of Ireland and nine in Northern Ireland, according to The Associated Press.

Ireland's chief veterinary adviser, Paddy Rogan, said only a handful of pigs at the 10 restricted farms have been slaughtered so far, but all of them -- estimated at 100,000 or about one in 30 pigs in Ireland -- would eventually be destroyed so that they cannot enter the food chain, AP reported.

Authorities say 490 farms have been declared dioxin-free, but the slaughtering of pigs and the sale of pork remain prohibited.

Ireland's Department of Agriculture is working with a meat-marketing organization called Bord Bia to ensure that sales of Irish pork resume by the end of the week.

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The fresh pork, slaughtered this week, will be labeled with special stickers designed to reassure customers about its safety.

The European Commission has arranged an emergency meeting between representatives from Ireland and affected member states.

In Britain, the Food Safety Authority also confirmed that it was meeting Monday to discuss the possible repercussions of the pork scare.

Preliminary evidence gathered by Ireland's Food Safety Authority indicated that the contamination likely started in September, the government said in a statement Saturday.

The Food Safety Authority advised consumers not to consume Irish pork and bacon products for the time being.

The government is now trying to determine the scope of the contamination.

Dioxins are environmental contaminants, often present in industrial waste. Most dioxin exposure occurs through diet, with more than 95 percent coming from the consumption of animal fats, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Dioxin levels in food are regulated.


Dr. Tony Holohan, Ireland's Chief Medical Officer, said dioxins usually affected the nervous system and liver, the UK Press Association reported. Holohan added that the dioxin were only dangerous through prolonged exposure.

The agency reported that an animal feed ingredient supplied by one business to 40-plus farms is regarded as the likely cause of the dioxin by experts, and that tests revealed the dioxin polychlorinated





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