World press has field day with pork crisis


Within 12 hours of the pork recall being announced, the international press was carrying the story and the manner in which the news was reported by some papers will have dismayed Irish exporters fearful of the long-term consequences of the crisis.

After 36 hours there were in excess of 1,700 newspaper articles on the crisis in titles spanning the globe. The largest export market for Irish pork is the UK which is where the most widespread and potentially damaging coverage was to be found.

"Toxic Irish pork is swept off shelves" was how the Sunannounced the recall to its readers while the Daily Mirrorsettled on the even more sensationalist "Poison pork panic: Irish pigs were fed on plastic bags".

The Daily Expressmeanwhile ran the story under the banner headline "Shoppers told: Don't eat toxic Irish pork" with the Daily Mailopting for "British shoppers 'may not be able to tell whether they have Irish poison pork in their fridge'".

While the London Timesheadline was a slightly more sober "Shops rush to take Irish pork off shelves", it also warned that EU labelling laws meant pork from the Republic could have been
labelled British.

The story, under the headline "Dioxin alert in Irish pork featured in the top five most emailed and most commented on stories on Le Monde'swebsite and it was also attracting significant interest from readers of the Singapore-based Straits Timeswebsite, where it appeared second in the lists of most read stories this afternoon.

El Paisin Spain reported that sources from its Ministry of Health said no pork had been directly imported from Ireland but that there was concern that contaminated meat might have entered the country via France and Portugal.

The New York Timesconfined its report to just six paragraphs under the headline "Ireland investigating tainted pork" while the Washington Postcarried a similarly short piece headlined "Ireland recalls pork products after dioxin test".

The French-based English language based news wire AFP went with "Ireland scrambles to contain pork cancer scare" while the Chinese news agency Xinhua has been following the story from early yesterday morning under comparatively sober headlines including "Irish police to investigate
pork contamination".

CNN gave the story substantial space pointing out that "another red flag is being waved over dinner tables this week with warnings from the Irish government not to eat its pork products" as it drew parallels between the crisis and BSE, bird flu and the baby milk contamination earlier this year which killed six children in China.