December 10, 2008

EU blames recycled food plant for Irish pork contamination

The European Commission said Tuesday that the dioxin contamination of Irish pork which has caused a health scare and industry losses originated at a food waste recycling plant.

Ireland sounded the alarm Saturday, recalling all pork products made since Sept. 1 after dioxins, which in high doses can cause cancer, were found in slaughtered pigs thought to have eaten tainted feed.

Commission spokeswoman Nina Papadoulaki said the contamination had spread, via animal feed to nine farms in Northern Ireland as well as 10 pig farms and 38 cattle farms in the Republic of Ireland.

"The contamination was confirmed to be linked to a company recycling bakery waste," used in animal feed, she said.

The exact method of contamination hasn't been discovered, she added.

Irish officials and police have been investigating a plant run by Millstream Power Recycling Limited near Fenagh, County Carlow in southwest Ireland.

A firm spokesman said what was under investigation was oil used in machinery used to dry the recycled bread products and dough which are ingredients in the feed.

The affected Irish pork farms have been taken out of food production and Brussels was awaiting information Tuesday about action taken at the cattle farms as well as the affected farms in Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK.

Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen said Tuesday his country would seek EU cash to help bail out its meat industry after the cancer-linked pork scare added to its recession woes.

However, Michael Mann, spokesman for the EU farm commissioner, said there was "no legal basis" for such a payout.

"What Ireland could do is pay each farmer up to EUR7,500 over a three-year period or pay up to 100 percent compensation for affected farmers if they can establish that it is an exceptional occurrence."

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