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January 12, 2009

 

Ireland's beef trade with Italy halts on dioxin concerns

 
 

Ireland's EUR200 million (US$266.7 million) beef trade with Italy has nearly halted completely due to the dioxin scare, according to industry sources.

 

Italy has cancelled orders for live cattle and demanding veterinary certifications from Ireland to prove that Irish beef were dioxin-free.

 

When the dioxin-contaminated pork scandal went to light in December, Italy's health authorities seized and returned 42 shipments of Irish pork and turned back shipments of Irish beef within 48 hours.

 

The restriction of 21 Irish beef farms where the contaminated feed were given to beef cattle increased the pressure from Italy, despite assurances that the beef were safe by the European Food Safety Authority and Italy's health minister Maurizio Sacconi.

 

Irish-born cattle fattened in Italy were not slaughtered, although dioxin-free certifications have been delivered and only one animal have been identified from the 21 restricted herds, said Ireland's chief veterinary officer Paddy Rogan.

 

However, Italy is understood to be looking for dioxin-free certification for Irish cattle either slaughtered in Ireland or exported for fattening on the basis they may have been fed the contaminated feed.

 

Italy also insists on dioxin tests on beef, which slows down the delivery of Irish beef significantly.

 

The Italian delays had led to factories offering much lower prices for what had been Ireland's premium market in the EU, according to the Irish Farmers Journal.

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