Recalled pork still held in overseas warehouses

 

“SUBSTANTIAL AMOUNTS” of Irish pork products which were recalled from 40 overseas markets because of the dioxin scare in December are still being held in overseas warehouses and ports.

Nearly four months after the crisis began only €45 million has been paid out of the Government’s €180 million contingency fund for the return or destruction of the products.

Meat Industry Ireland, which represents the processing factories, said the delay in getting the product back or destroyed was damaging the reputation of Irish pork and increasing the costs involved. A spokesman confirmed complaints from the industry to The Irish Times that substantial amounts of Irish product still remained in ports and warehouses across the world.

Industry sources complained yesterday that the return or destruction of the product had been dramatically delayed in international markets, especially Russia.

According to one shipping agent, Irish pork products were being held in ports in three continents as negotiations continued on either the repatriation of the product or its destruction.

Ireland exported more than 130,000 tonnes of pork meat in 2008 to 40 countries, exports which were estimated to be worth more than €370 million.

“The problems are not too bad in the European Community, but it is causing a lot of grief in the international markets, particularly Russia,” said one exporter.

“Getting the product back, which also involves settling with retailers or wholesalers, is complicated enough without the bureaucracy here at home,” he said.

“While we are awaiting clearance there are warehousing and brokerage costs, and there is a major cashflow problem down the chain.”

The shipping agent said he was aware of Irish pork being held in ports on three continents awaiting documentation so it could be moved.

On January 22nd the Irish Association of Pigmeat Processors sought at an Oireachtas Agriculture Committee meeting for the recall process to be clarified and completed as soon as possible.

The committee was told that where possible the product would be rendered in the foreign market but significant quantities would have to be brought back to Ireland for rendering.

Exporters are now claiming the process has been bogged down in paperwork. “The Irish dioxin crisis will continue to be in the public eye as long as the product is out there and we want the problem resolved as quickly as possible,” said a plant owner.