Pork scare: how it unfolded


Wednesday November 19th: Routine pigmeat samples are taken at an unnamed meat plant. It was a "totally routine" sample, the Department of Agriculture said.

Friday November 28th:

A testing laboratory tells the Department of Agriculture that there is an unusual pattern developing in the sample.

Saturday November 29th:

Department of Agriculture officials call to the farm in question that morning and begin an investigation. They look at the list of feed suppliers and in the following days the suspected contamination is narrowed down to a feed recycler.

Thursday, December 4th:

The Department of Agriculture issues a press statement saying restrictions have been placed on a number of pig farms following the discovery of contaminated animal feed. It says it discovered polychlorinated biphenyls (PCPs). These are organic pollutants normally occurring as a result of industrial processes, in pork fat during routine monitoring.

The Dutch Food Safety Authority hears about the alert and contacts the FSAI to say they too have detected dioxins.

Belgian authorities said they had noticed increasing levels of PCBs and dioxins in September and French authorities also indicate concern.

Saturday, December 6th:

At 3.40pm, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland receives confirmation from the lab in York that the animal feed and pork fat samples confirm the presence of very high levels of dioxins.

7.30pm: A press conference is held announcing the recall from the market of all Irish pork products produced from pigs slaughtered in the State.

Sunday, December 7th:

Supermarkets continue to remove pork and bacon products from their shelves.

Stormont Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew confirms the same feed had been used in nine farms in Northern Ireland.

Department of Agriculture officials meet with retailers.

The Department of Agriculture's chief veterinary officer confirms between 20 and 25 countries could have received contaminated meat.