Pork could be back on sale in days, says Cowen


Taoiseach Brian Cowen has said that it became immediately apparent to him yesterday that urgent and decisive action was needed when the presence of dioxins in Irish pork was confirmed.

Mr Cowen also said that he was confident that fresh supplies of pork could be made available within days.

¿Obviously we will do all we can to assist everybody in getting fresh and clean product back on display as quickly as possible,¿ he said.

Outlining the events surrounding the emergency decision yesterday evening to withdraw all Irish pork products from the shelves, Mr Cowen said that once the positive results come through, and the experts had given their
advice, his view was that the ¿action must be immediate and comprehensive and clear¿.

¿I think it¿s important that we did so in the interest of the consumer and in the interest of public health. That is a precautionary principle that had to be put in place. The appropriate action in that respect was taken and we move on now,¿ he said.

The Taoiseach said that he had returned to Dublin from his Laois-Offaly constituency yesterday and was in the Department of Agriculture head office when the laboratory confirmation of contamination was confirmed.

He took charge of a meeting attended by the Minister for Health Mary Harney, the Minister for Agriculture Brendan Smith, the Minister of State for Food Trevor Sargent as well as senior officials and experts from the respective departments and the Food Safety Authority (FSA). He learned of the result at 4.30pm yesterday and following a series of meetings, that included farming and food processing interests, the decision to announce a blanket recall of all pork products was made 7.30pm.

The discovery of the contamination, he said, underlined the effectiveness of procedures in place. ¿I think it¿s important to point out that the monitoring that does go on brought about this issue that had to be addressed. Farms had to be locked up. Tests had to be conducted. As soon as the test came back decisions were taken.

I think it¿s important that we do that in the interest of the consumer and in the interest of public health,¿ he said.

Mr Cowen was speaking after unveiling a statue commemorating the late singer and entertainer Joe Dolan in Mullingar, Co Westmeath.

Speaking earlier Mr Sargent suggested that the source of the contamination may have been a `non-food oil¿ used in the manufacture of animal feeds from waste bread and dough products.

He also said that the Government had no choice but to take the total blanket withdrawal as recommended by the FSA.