Timeline: Big food scares
June 2011Irish consumers were urged not to eat raw bean sprouts after fatal E.coli outbreaks in France and Germany which grew to be the largest food-borne illness incident in Europe .
December 2008Pig feed was contaminated by toxic substances known as dioxin-like PCBs (polychlorinated byphenyls). This resulted in the withdrawal from sale of all Irish pork products. It was the largest food scare since the BSE crisis and some 100,000 pigs were destroyed because of the contamination.
August 2008Dawn Farm Foods closed its Naas plant for a week after a salmonella outbreak was linked to a particular production line at the plant.
May 2002Farmers in the Netherlands noticed their pigs were having fertility problems. Investigators found the problems arose from a synthetic hormone, medroxyprogesterone acetate, or MPA, which was found in the pigs’ kidneys and then in their feed. MPA is used in humans as a contraceptive and hormone replacement. It emerged that the affected animals had received a feed additive produced in Belgium using waste sugar water shipped from the Republic of Ireland.
1989 -2000sBSE, commonly known as mad-cow disease, is a fatal disease first confirmed in UK cattle in in 1986 and in Ireland three years later when 15 cases were confirmed. Most experts agree that it was probably spread by cattle eating feed containing contaminated meat and bone meal (MBM).
It took years and multiple human deaths and the slaughter of millions of infected animals in Britain before scientists discovered even tiny amounts of contaminated feed could trigger the disease.
In the 1990s the link was made between BSE, the feed given to cattle, and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob (vCJD), a rare and fatal form of dementia in humans. A small number of vCJD cases were reported in Ireland since the link between eating infected meat and a new variant of CJD was made.
From 1990 onwards strict controls were introduced to eliminate BSE and it is no longer an issue. In fact, from April of this year, healthy slaughter animals will no longer be tested for BSE.
Late 1990s Irish shellfish was implicated in a series of outbreaks of illnesses in France. As a result, a biotoxin monitoring programme was introduced to avoid a recurrence of the food scare.
1998 A series of salmonella enteritidis outbreaks linked to imported eggs resulted in the creation of the State’s egg quality assurance scheme.