26th Sep 2018

Irish pork pulled from EU shelves

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS Just in time for Christmas, the European Union has recommended all Irish pork products be pulled from shelves after Irish authorities found dioxins in pork meat about 100 times the EU maximum level over the weekend.

While refraining from ordering a total export ban on the country's pork products, the European executive warned that a total of 12 member states and a further nine countries beyond the EU may have received tainted pig meat.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Some 100,000 Irish pigs are due to be slaughtered (Photo: Notat)

Food safety commissioner Androulla Vassiliou on Monday (8 December) said however all member states should pull any Irish pork products and submit them to testing.

"The commission is following very closely this contamination incident to ensure public health protection," she said. "We don't feel at present we need to take further action."

During routine monitoring by the Irish authorities for a range of contaminants, elevated levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were found in pork meat from farms in the Republic of Ireland, according to the commission.

Contaminated animal feed had been sent to 10 pig farms that produce around 10 percent of the total supply of pigs in the country. However, animals from these farms are processed by meat plants that deliver some 80 percent of Ireland's pork and pork products.

The commission believes the problem is likely to have started in September of this year.

"As these PCB levels might be an indicator for unacceptable dioxin contamination, further investigations were immediately started to determine the dioxin content and to identify the possible source of contamination," the EU executive said in a statement.

Long-term high-level exposure to dioxins may cause cancer. However, short-term exposure does not result in adverse health effects.

The pig meat may have been delivered to Belgium, Britain, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Sweden, the commissioner said.

Beyond the EU, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland and the United States may also have received the meat.

Besides pigs, the contaminated feed was also delivered to some cattle farms, although no dairy farms have been affected.

As cows mostly eat grass, the presence of the contaminated feed in a cattle diet will be much more limited than in a pig diet, said the commission, but, as a precautionary measure, the affected cattle farms have been blocked and an investigation is ongoing to determine if any beef is also contaminated at unacceptable levels.

Some 100,000 pigs are due to be slaughtered to contain the problem, while hundreds of people are already being laid off work.

The food scare comes at a terrible time for Ireland, already hit hard by the financial crisis and just ahead of Christmas, when families would be buying more ham and pork than usual.

The pork industry is worth some €368 million a year to the country.

Food safety experts from the 12 EU states are to meet later on Monday, with additional meetings to take place on Wednesday and Friday.


No end in sight to Russia pork ban

Russia's ban on EU pork exports is costing farmers €1.4 billion a year, but reorienting sales to China might be a better bet than banking on WTO arbitration or a political detente to get the income flowing again.

Airbnb agrees to clarify pricing for EU

The justice commissioner says the accommodation-rental website will better inform users about prices, and about the legal status of their 'hosts'. Facebook, however, could face sanctions if it doesn't comply with EU rules.

'Every group split' ahead of EU copyright vote

Political groups in the European Parliament are split about how to vote for a directive that would reform the EU's copyright regime - amid warnings that freedom of expression and creators' rights are at risk.

News in Brief

  1. UN chief: World suffering from 'trust deficit disorder'
  2. Stalemate in Sweden as parliament ousts prime minister
  3. Migrant rescue ship heading to French port
  4. EU angry at British tabloids on Brexit
  5. UK to allow EU flights in no-deal Brexit
  6. Greek reporters arrested after story on 'mishandled' EU funds
  7. Austrian minister urges police to out foreign sex offenders
  8. ECB's Draghi set to clarify role in secretive G30 group

Airbnb agrees to clarify pricing for EU

The justice commissioner says the accommodation-rental website will better inform users about prices, and about the legal status of their 'hosts'. Facebook, however, could face sanctions if it doesn't comply with EU rules.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  5. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  6. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  7. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  8. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  9. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  10. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  11. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow

Latest News

  1. EU court delivers transparency blow on MEP expenses
  2. Russian with Malta passport in money-laundering probe
  3. Cyprus: Russia's EU weak link?
  4. Missing signature gaffe for Azerbaijan gas pipeline
  5. Every major city in Europe is getting warmer
  6. No chance of meeting EU renewable goals if infrastructure neglected
  7. Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK
  8. Wake-up call on European Day Against Islamophobia

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us