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Paul Faith/PA Wire
Staff empty pork shelves at a Tesco store in Newtownbreda, Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Ireland Initiates Massive Pork Recall

December 09, 2008 08:58 AM
by Lindsey Chapman
Ireland is pulling all pork products from shelves around the world, after learning that they could contain dangerous chemicals.

International Pork Warning Issued

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Ireland has issued an international recall of all pork products because they could contain dioxins, Voice of America News reported.

Prolonged exposure to “some forms” of dioxins can cause cancer, Reuters explained.

The recall applies to all Irish pork products produced since Sept. 1, 2008; up to 25 countries, including the United States, Russia, Japan, China, France and Germany, may have received contaminated pork. 

Authorities say the pigs became contaminated after they ate tainted feed. The pig feed was produced at a plant that uses oil as a fuel to dry waste food and then turn it into animal feed. In this instance, a non-food grade oil was used instead of a food grade oil.

Ten of Ireland’s 500 pig farms, as well as nine farms in Northern Ireland, have used tainted feed. Veterinary officials stated that they will not allow pork processing to resume until all producers can demonstrate that their animal feed is safe.

Meanwhile, Ireland’s pork producers are bracing for the financial consequences of the recall. According to VOA News, the Irish pig industry “is worth more than $600 million per year.” The Belfast Telegraph reports approximately 100,000 pigs will be killed because of this scare.

Related Topic: Other tainted animal feed cases

Melamine contamination

In 2007, thousands of cats and dogs died after eating contaminated pet food from China. The food contained melamine, an industrial chemical. While melamine has no nutritional value, it can boost protein levels in product tests.

Melamine resurfaced as a problem in Chinese products during 2008, when the presence of the chemical in milk formula sickened thousands of infants. Investigators also found melamine in candy, coffee and tea products, as well as in four brands of Chinese eggs, prompting speculation that animals in China were eating contaminated feed.

Mad cow disease

Several years ago, mad cow disease caused considerable health concerns around the world. The condition, which was first identified in Britain in 1985, attacks a cow’s nervous system and ruins brain tissue. Scientists believed the disease was primarily spread by a practice called “animal recycling,” which uses “bone meal and other ground animal parts” in feed, according to PBS Online NewsHour. Evidence indicates that humans can contract a variant of the disease from eating infected meat.

Reference: Timeline of the pork recall

The Irish Times has a timeline of the events leading up to the pork recall, starting with a “totally routine” sample of meat taken from a meat plant in November.
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