Dioxin Contamination No Cause for Concern

IRELAND - Food safety officials have come to the conclusion that the chemical contamination of pork was no cause for concern, just days before the €180m dioxin crisis erupted.
calendar icon 22 January 2009
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According to Independent.ie, in a major review of the pork food chain, published on 24 November of last year, Safefood said there was comprehensive testing of pork for dioxins and other contaminants.

It said, "Such results highlight the safety and integrity of pork production systems on the island of Ireland".

The 132-page report was issued just four days before laboratory tests revealed the presence of markers for dioxins in pork.

The November report also said: "Monitoring programmes in RoI and NI routinely test for all chemical residues such as dioxins, furans and dioxin-like PCBs, as well as veterinary residues and growth hormones," the report said.

"On the basis of the results of these ongoing tests there are currently no causes for concern from the chemical contamination of pork and pork products."

Samples had already been taken from dioxin-contaminated pork at the time the report was issued.

A few days later, confirmation of dioxins sparked a total recall of all Irish pork products dating back to September.

Safefood chiefs testified before a Dail Committee yesterday, outlining their role during last month's pigmeat dioxin contamination crisis which threatened to destroy the Irish pork industry and will cost taxpayers €180m in compensation.

Safefood chief executive Martin Higgins said that the Food Safety Authority of Ireland had the primary role in enforcing food law, and to promote food safety and healthy eating.

However, it had not put out statements or publicised their helpline during the crisis.

He said it didn't want to confuse consumers with too many messages from different agencies.

It planned a consumer survey next week to find out if they had concerns about the safety of eating pork as a result of the dioxin scare, as it was felt enough time had now elapsed to let attitudes settle down.

Safefood was, however, precluded from commenting on the food safety regime unless specifically requested to do so by the North-South Ministerial Council. This had not happened to date, Mr Higgins said.

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