Contamination levels in feed described as 'extremely high'

Mon, Dec 8, 2008, 00:00

TEST RESULTS:CONFIRMATION THAT high dioxin levels were present in Irish pork samples sent for testing in Britain was notified to the Food Safety Authority of Ireland and the Department of Agriculture at 3.40pm on Saturday.

This triggered the withdrawal of Irish pork products for consumption at home and abroad.

A press conference in Government Buildings at 7.30pm on Saturday was attended by Alan Reilly of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland and the chief medical officer, Dr Tony Holohan, Minister for Health Mary Harney, Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith, and Ministers of State Trevor Sargent and Mary Wallace.

Mr Reilly said: “The levels that we have found are high and that’s why we have instigated this precautionary measure of withdrawing Irish pork products from the market.”

He said the source of the contamination was a feed manufacturer producing a crumb – a recycled bread and dough mix – that was supplied as an ingredient to farms mixing their own feed. The farms supplied by the feed manufacturer were restricted and samples were taken.

“We got confirmation from the UK that the samples of feed and the samples of pork that we had sent out earlier came back positive for dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs. The levels in the feed were very high. They were extremely high. The levels in the pork itself were in the region of about 80 to 200 times above the safe limits.”

The recall would include all pork produced since September 1st, he said.

“The contaminated pork from the specific farms has been mixed in with safe product, and there is safe product out there but as it’s not possible to trace every single piece of this safe product we have decided on a precautionary basis to withdraw all the Irish pork.”

Chief medical officer Dr Holohan said people should not eat or buy pork products, but did not need to take further measures.

Mr Smith said the number of farms restricted was 47, including 38 beef farms, which received feed that was possibly contaminated.