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Italy Locks Down on Irish Pork and Beef Imports

by 5m Editor
18 December 2008, at 9:51am

ITALY - Following the recent Irish recall of all pork and pigmeat due to the discovery of dioxin in meat samples, Italian Ministry of Health officials report that they have seized all 90 shipments of Irish pork to Italy and have increased sanitary controls of Irish beef imports as well.

Irish Pork Seized

Following the recent Irish recall of all pork and pigmeat due to the discovery of dioxin in meat samples, Italian Ministry of Health officials report that they have seized all 90 shipments of Irish pork to Italy and have increased sanitary controls of Irish beef imports as well.

The contamination in the Irish meat is believed to have originated from feedstuffs that include recycled bread and dough products. All consumers have been warned not to eat - and to destroy - any pork containing products produced since 1 September, 2008.

Press reports note that although the levels of dioxin found in Irish pork were said to be “as much as 100 times the accepted limit”, experts pointed out that even at these levels vast amounts would have to be consumed over a long period of time to create any cancer risk.

Farmers Call for More Labeling

This latest food scare has prompted the Italian Farmer Associations to renew its call for the EU to require that all meats and certain other food products carry labels that indicate where the product originated and where it was processed. This practice was introduced for beef and poultry in the aftermath of the mad cow and bird flu scares. However, no such labeling is obligatory for pork, rabbit, or sheep meat.

Italian farmers have already successfully lobbied to have origin and quality labeling for not only beef and poultry products but also for fresh vegetables, eggs, honey, fresh milk, and as of January 1 of this year, processed and packaged tomatoes. Nevertheless, it has been estimated that 50 per cent of the most common food products consumers buy still do not need to indicate on their labels their origin or quality. Until the EU takes any action, Italian Ministry of Health Undersecretary Martini suggested that “Italian livestock producers adopt their own system of certification.”

Meanwhile, following the Irish meat recall, Italian Minister of Agriculture Zaia is quoted as saying that “Italian pork meat is both good and safe to consume” encouraging consumption of domestic meat. Zaia also reassured Italian consumers by noting that Italy imports very little meat from Ireland.