Chilean Pork Factories Quarantined

by 5m Editor
18 August 2008, at 9:21am

CHILE - The Chilean Health Ministry quarantined four additional pork factories last Thursday after Canadian health officials confirmed high levels of the carcinogenic chemical dioxin in their pork meat products.

A previous announcement ups the number of Chilean pork factory quarantines to ten, restricting local and exported meat sales.

Public Health Undersecretary Jeannette Vega confirmed that all infected meat will be destroyed, which includes sacrificing live pigs testing positive for higher than normal dioxin levels.

According to Mercopress, in early July, South Korea detected higher than permitted levels of dioxin in a package of imported Chilean pork and eliminated the rest of the packages received. Shortly there after, South Korean officials placed a ban on Chile's pork imports.

Dioxin is measured in the pig's fat by picograms, which is one trillionth of a gram. For pig meat to pass South Korean health standards, it must not contain more than 2 picograms.

In the Santa Anita Chilean pork factory, one of the factories that have already been quarantined – health officials found 36.7 picograms of dioxin in pig fat, a figure more than 1,800% above South Korean health standards.

In late July, Japan also declared a temporary suspension of Chilean pork imports due to the South Korean incident. This is a severe blow to Chile's pork export industry, as Japan represents one of Chile’s three most important export markets, consuming 33 percent of total Chilean pork in 2007.

Still, Chilean authorities have not completely controlled pork meat circulation within the country. The director of the Health Ministry's investigation, Doctor Helia Molina, said that there is no way the government can determine if infected meat has been sold to the public.

“We don't take samples of meat that is already on the market, only in the factories,” said Molina. “We are trying to take the precautions so that meat with dioxin does not reach the public. However, it is most likely that there has been some consumption the infected meat in small proportions.” The Santiago Times

5m Editor