Last Updated: Monday, December 8,
EPA investigates oil used at Carlow
Source of Article: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2008/1208/breaking46.html?via=mr
The plant at the centre of the investigation into the source of
contaminated pork products which recycled food produce for pig feed was using
oil that was "inappropriate" for the process, it has emerged.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is conducting an investigation
into the use of the oil at the Millstream Recycling plant in Clohamon Mills, Co Carlow, a
joint press conference by the Department of Agriculture and the Food Safety
Authority heard this afternoon.
The oil used at the plant was of a type that should not have been used for
such a process and the particular oil being used by the plant would have
required a licence from the Environmental
Protection Agency, which it did not have.
Officials from the Department of Agriculture said the oil was
"absolutely not" added to the pig feed, but it appeared it had been
used in the process of generating heat for the processing of the human food
produce to turn it into pigfeed. It was believed
the pigfeed somehow became contaminated with
potentially dangerous dioxins during this process.
The plant had undergone routine inspection by the Department for
Agriculture in 2006 and 2007 and was due for another inspection in either
late November or early December of this year.
The type of plant involved was considered “low risk” for such a problem,
because it was involved in taking food produce and putting it through a
"fairly simple process" to make pig feed, Department official
Dermot Ryan said.
He said the Department conducted about 2,200 inspections every year, right
through the feed chain. He said some 7,000 analyses were carried out on about
7,000 samples. The European Commission had also audited the Department's
inspection process - most recently last May - and had given it "what we
would consider to be a clean bill of health", he said.
The press conference heard, however, that routine tests for dioxins are
not carried out on every sample taken at farms and other locations, because
they cost about €1,000 each. The State laboratory in Dublin should be equipped to carry out such
tests by next February so that they don't have to be sent abroad, Alan Ryder
of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland said.
The State's chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan
said the potential risk to human health from any contamination caused by the
oil was "extremely small".
An estimated 100,000 pigs will have to be destroyed because of the pigmeat crisis which has led to the recall of all Irish
pork products in Ireland’s
largest food scare since BSE.
The public have been told to dump or return all pork products which they
purchased since September 1st last because of the risk of dioxin
The recall followed the discovery of potentially dangerous dioxins, known
as PCBs, in pigmeat. The dioxins were contained in
feed supplied from the Millstream plant.
Stale bread, out-of-date biscuits, chocolate and dough from feed plants
are heated and turned into food for animals and it was during this process at
Millstream that it is believed the feed was contaminated.
Experts working on the case suspect fumes from the drier may have caused
In a statement yesterday, the company confirmed it had been working with
the Department of Agriculture and Food officials to identify the source of
PCBs found in pig meal in a number of farms in Ireland.
“Accepting the need for a recall, 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,”
said the statement.
“In the meantime, Millstream will continue to work with the Department of
Agriculture and Food to ensure that any product sold to the pig industry in
recent weeks is identified and recalled,” it added.
As the Government moved to ease the fears of consumers, investigations
were continuing at ten pig farms and 38 beef farms in the Republic. The
contamination is likely to have a severe impact on the €7 billion Irish food
Contaminated feed from the Co Carlow facility
had also been supplied to nine farms in Northern Ireland which now have
The investigation has found contaminated pork with dioxin levels of 80 to
200 times above the safety limits. It is being led by the Departments of
Agriculture and Health, and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI). The
Garda is also involved.
The FSAI has advised to consumers not to eat any pork products. But it
said people should not be alarmed or concerned in relation to the potential
risks from short-term exposure to dioxins found in pork products.
The recall led to almost 2,000 calls to the FSAI helpline yesterday.
Queues formed at supermarkets as shoppers returned products for which the
Government said they should receive a refund.
The National Consumer Agency (NCA) said consumers were entitled to be
refunded. NCA chief executive Ann Fitzgerald said: “Under legislation
consumers are entitled to repair, replacement or refund of a faulty product.
In the case of pork meat or other food products containing pork, consumers
are entitled to a refund as a repair or replacement does not apply in this
The Convenience Stores and Newsagents Association called on the Government
to provide an emergency compensation package so that retailers and suppliers
would not be left out of pocket.