All Irish pork recalled over weekend; source identified

 

(MEATPOULTRY.com, December 08, 2008)
by MEAT&POULTRY Staff

Source of Article:  http://www.meatnews.com/news/headline_stories.asp?ArticleID=98510

 


 

 

 

DUBLIN, IRELAND – On Saturday Dec. 6, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland announced all Irish pork products produced from pigs slaughtered in Ireland must be recalled from the market after laboratory results of animal feed and pork fat samples obtained earlier that day confirmed the presence of dioxins. The government's departments of health and agriculture jointly called for the recall or destruction of all Irish pork produced since Sept. 1 after discovering potentially dangerous dioxins in pigs and pig feed at 80 to 200 times the safety limit, according to The Associated Press.

The government asked grocery stores, pubs and restaurants in Ireland to ship back all Irish pork products to their manufacturers as part of the investigation and asked the public as a precautionary measure not to consume Irish pork and bacon products at this time.

However, early on Dec. 8 AP reported F.S.A.I. has since traced the problem to machine oil that possibly contaminated foodstuffs at one small animal-food processor in southeast Ireland. Millstream Power Recycling Ltd. reportedly supplied the oil-tainted feed to 10 pig farms in the Republic of Ireland and nine others in the British territory of Northern Ireland. This find could force Ireland to destroy 100,000 pigs, food-safety officials said earlier today as the European Union advised that nations did not need to ban Irish pork imports.

Although good news that the source has been discovered, the Irish pork industry now faces a major challenge to restore international confidence in its pork industry. But Paddy Rogan, the Agriculture Department's chief veterinary adviser, said the oil-tainted product never went to the vast majority of Ireland's approximately 500 pig farms. He said slaughtering and processing of meat from many farms could resume Dec. 8 — to be accompanied by specially designed labels "so the consumer will be absolutely crystal clear that this is safe Irish product."

Although this move could help minimize the damage to sales in Ireland itself, the country will be hard pressed to convince its overseas customers to resume accepting Irish sausages, ham, bacon and pork-based ingredients as quickly. Mr. Rogan said about 25 other countries could have received Irish pork with the contamination problem.

Many nations in Europe and Asia scrambled over the weekend to determine whether any Irish pork goods were on their store shelves and removed them. Germany, the No. 2 importer of Irish pork behind Britain, said it had received 2.4 tons of Irish pork since Sept. 1, largely in the form of unprocessed meat, and found Irish-sourced pork in products at five supermarkets. Meanwhile, Japan, Singapore and South Korea announced today they were suspending imports of Irish pork indefinitely. But the 27-nation European Union in Brussels, Belgium iterated no nation needed to ban Irish imports of pork, citing Ireland's own strong actions and the low risk from short-term consumption of the toxins in question.

Dioxins, which are naturally occurring and can enter an animal's system through its food or environment, accumulate in the pig's fat — and have been linked to an increased risk of cancer if ingested by humans in sufficient volume and over a long period of time. Health authorities in Great Britain said, however, when the recall was announced over the weekend that due to the suspected short time limit of this contamination, they weren’t concerned about the discovery from a human health standpoint.

Ireland’s pig industry is worth more than US$600 million annually in this country of 4.2 million. Ireland produces more than 3 million pigs a year, nearly half of which are consumed within the Republic of Ireland. But Irish pork also is heavily exported to Northern Ireland and Britain — and appears in grocery stores and processed meats through much of Europe and Asia.

Last year Ireland exported 113,000 tons of pig meat, nearly half of that to the United Kingdom. Ireland also shipped more than 500,000 live pigs to the U.K. for slaughter and processing there. Ireland's other major customers for pork are Germany, which bought 9,000 tons last year; France, Italy and several Eastern European countries, which together took more than 20,000 tons; Russia, 6,600 tons, and China, 1,100 tons.

Ireland's major international competitors for pork-product exports are Brazil, the United States and Canada.

"Pork production in Ireland is not at all concentrated and there are 69 plants listed on Bord Bia’s (Irish Food Promotion Board) website: http://www.bordbia.ie/industryinfo/pages/CompanySearchResults.aspx?_compName=&_compSector=20," a U.S. Meat Export Federation spokesperson in Brussels told MEATPOULTRY.COM. "The top two pork companies are the groups Glanbia and then Dawn."

Ireland's national police force, the Garda Siochana, said its detectives were involved in trying to identify what went wrong in the production, distribution and screening of feed produced by Millstream — and criminal charges were possible. Millstream said the oil appeared to have come from a machine used to dry out-of-date bread and dough being converted into a breadcrumb mix.

Meanwhile, Millstream said in a statement, "Millstream will be carrying out a full investigation to establish how the company's strict health and safety procedures and the high quality standards could possibly have been breached."

 

 

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