Cattle on 21 farms to be slaughtered over dioxin levels

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The samples were last week found to be positive for marker polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, and further tests found that the dioxin levels were higher than the results from the recent controversial pork samples.

However, while the cattle implicated will have to be slaughtered and the dioxin levels exceeded the legal limit, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) said the risk to public health was extremely low.

"The risk assessment carried out by the FSAI indicates that, based on food consumption data, the exposure from beef is 300 times lower than that posed by the pork contamination," a FSAI spokesman said.

"Therefore, consumers should have no concerns in relation to health risks and retailers are not required to take any action."

Farms that could have potentially used contaminated feed have been restricted since December 5, and yesterday the Department of Agriculture confirmed 21 out of 120,000 cattle farms here had received the implicated animal feed.

"The actual number of cattle farms is extremely low, representing 0.02% of the total national number of cattle farms," said the authority spokesman.

Alan Reilly, deputy chief executive of the authority said that while samples were higher than in the pork products, the level of concern was lower owing to the lower likely exposure and superior traceability systems that apply to beef allowing implicated product to be identified, isolated and withdrawn from the market.

Meanwhile, EU member states yesterday backed a disposal scheme for animals locked down on farms that have used contaminated feed, as well as for certain pig meat stocks held in, or still owned by, slaughterhouses.

The EU will co-finance the purchases at an average rate of 50%.

Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Mariann Fischer Boel said: "We hope that co-funding the destruction of affected meat will help bring this problem to a rapid conclusion and assist farmers who face financial difficulties."


December 19, 2008


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