Update on Irish Pork and Bacon Products

by 5m Editor
8 December 2008, at 4:26pm

IRELAND - The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) yesterday updated consumers on the national recall of Irish pork and bacon products.

"The situation needs to be dealt with vigorously and transparently so that consumers and the industry can return to normality in this busy pre-Christmas market."
Graham Furey, Ulster Farmers' Union President

Irish pork and bacon products are being recalled as a precautionary measure from the market due to the illegal presence of a dioxin contaminant in a portion of the Irish pork and bacon available on the market.

The FSAI reiterates its advice to consumers not to consume any Irish pork or bacon products. However, it stresses that people should not be alarmed or concerned in relation to the potential risks from dioxin’s found in pork products. A short term peak exposure to dioxins and PCBs does not result in adverse health effects.

The FSAI confirms that:

  • The use of a contaminated ingredient added to pork feed is identified as the source of the contamination. This feed was provided to ten Irish farms which produce approximately 10% of the total supply of pigs in Ireland.
  • It is now considered that the profile of dioxins found is similar to those found in electronic transformer oils.
  • Retailers have been asked to co-operate and to assist in the collection, return and disposal of product through the supply chain. The FSAI and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (DAFF) will work with the retail sector and producers in relation to resumption of product supply when appropriate.
  • The retail and hospitality industries have been briefed and advised on appropriate actions to take.
  • Environmental health officers (EHOs) throughout the country are assisting in this withdrawal process.

Updates will be provided as and when further information becomes available.

UFU Comment:

Following the contamination scare, Ulster Farmers' Union (UFU) President Graham Furey said, "The modern food chain has very good traceability for both animals and feed stuffs so we will be able to establish quickly the extent of the problem. Hopefully this is a very containable situation."

Mr. Furey further said the Union hopes Northern Ireland's Food Standards Agency (FSA) will be able to give clear, fact based, guidance to local consumers as quickly as possible. "The situation needs to be dealt with vigorously and transparently so that consumers and the industry can return to normality in this busy pre-Christmas market," he said.

IFA Position

Irish Farmers Association President Padraig Walshe said the withdrawal of all Irish pork products had to be seen as an emergency precautionary measure to reassure the public.

The action was taken to ensure consumer confidence in the safety of Irish-produced products, he said.

Mr Walshe said over 90 per cent of Irish production was completely free of any connection to the single source of the contaminated feed. Over the week-end Mr Walshe said the IFA has co-operated fully with the Department of Agriculture, FSAI and public health agencies to isolate the problem.

He said he was greatly heartened and highly appreciative of the many calls of support he had received from the public and consumers.

They understood this was an isolated incident said Mr Walshe.

He said with all the resources of the regulatory agencies and the industry, he intended to restore the high quality reputation associated with Irish pork and bacon.

The IFA President said: "There are over 400 farms ready to supply prime produce as soon as the logistics of the recall was completed."

He said he hoped the industry would be fully operational by Tuesday under the supervision of the Department of Agriculture, with all the necessary testing and controls in place.

Mr Walshe said there is no reason why the Irish industry cannot supply the traditional Christmas ham requirements of consumers.

He said: "Once Irish consumers are sure of the safety and high quality of the product, they will support a traditional sector that has always played an important role in Irish farming."

Statement by FSA

The FSA yesterday advised consumers not to eat pork or pork products, such as sausages, bacon, salami and ham, which are labelled as being from the Irish Republic or Northern Ireland, while it continues to investigate whether any products contaminated with dioxins have been distributed in the UK.

From the information available at this time, it is believed there is significant risk to UK consumers as adverse health effects from eating the affected products are only likely if people are exposed to relatively high levels of this contaminant for long periods.

Dioxins are chemicals that get into food from the environment and they are associated with a range of health effects when there is long term exposure to them at relatively high levels.

The Agency is continuing to monitor the situation and is in close contact with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland. If it is confirmed that any affected products have been distributed to the UK the Agency will take appropriate action to protect consumers. An urgent meeting of the UK food industry is being organised by the Agency as part of its investigation into possible distribution channels in this country.

Further Reading

- Go to our previous news item on this story by clicking here.