Watchdog talks down risk for several herds of North cattle


UK RESPONSE:TESTS ARE being undertaken to assess what, if any, levels of dioxins are present in contaminated feed that was given to herds of cattle in Northern Ireland, the UK Food Standards Agency said last night.

The food safety watchdog said it was aware that contaminated feed had been fed to several herds of cattle in the North.

However the agency said it expected the risk of contaminants in beef to be significantly lower than those found in pork.

“Cattle consume a wider variety of feeds and the way their bodies process the feed is different which makes the risk of contamination much lower,” the agency said in a statement.

The agency also said that for the time being retailers who can trace the origin of pork products directly to a farm that is unaffected by the contaminated feed are allowed to continue selling the items.

The agency said it has been working since Saturday to gather information and that “it has been confirmed that no pigs in Northern Ireland have been fed contaminated feed” .

The agency said the implementation of strong traceability measures meant shops, manufacturers and caterers could commence using or selling pork products once again.

This applies to both meat joints and ingredients of mixed products such as sausages, the food agency said.

“There is generally good traceability in the UK food supply chain. Most major retailers and caterers have already traced their products and removed any affected products,” the food agency said last night.

“We’ve asked retailers to work with us to agree a date this week when we will be able to say with certainty that consumers can now buy Irish pork unaffected by contaminated feed.”

Consumers with doubts or concerns about the source of any pork products they have bought should contact the shop at which they were purchased, it advised.

The agency said it has been in regular communication with local authorities in the UK and yesterday formally issued a “Food Alert for Action”.

Fresh alerts are to be issued whenever new information regarding the traceability of meat becomes available.