December 8, 2008


EU calls for immediate withdrawal of Irish meat products


Pork products coming from Ireland have been recalled from all European and other importing countries after the EU's Rapid Alert System for Feed and Food immediately cautioned its member regions to block or pull out Irish beef and pork products over dioxin contamination concerns.


In a statement, the European Commission said they are closely following the contamination incident and the actions taken to withdraw any potentially contaminated pork and meat products is their immediate step to ensure consumer health protection.


The statement said analysis confirmed there were very high levels of dioxins in pork meat, 80-200 times the EU maximum level of 1 picogramme/gramme fat for dioxins and 1.5 picogramme/gramme fat for the sum of dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs.


Long-term exposure to dioxins and PCBs can result in adverse health effects such as cancer whereas short-term exposure does not. However, the Commission says they do not want to take chances as "adequate measures have to be taken to remove highly contaminated products from the food chain to limit human exposure as much as possible."


The contamination, which likely started in September, came from a contaminated animal feed which was provided to nine pig farms in Ireland that breed about 10 percent of the country's 1.5 million pigs.  The feed was also used in nine cattle farms in Northern Ireland and beef from those farms is being blocked as a precaution while tests are carried out.


The commission statement said contaminated feed would affect cattle much less than pigs.

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