16th Feb 2019

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.


Romania enlists priests to promote euro switchover plan

Romania is due to join the single currency in 2024 - despite currently only meeting one of the four criteria. Now the government in Bucharest is enlisting an unlikely ally to promote the euro to the public: the clergy.

Vestager says 'no' to Siemens-Alstom mega-merger

The EU blocked the merger of the makers of Germany's ICE and France's TGV trains, citing concerns of reduced competition and extra costs for consumers and taxpayers. The two countries now want to change the rules.

'Robin Hood' measure in CAP seems doomed

Commission wanted farmers' EU subsidies to be capped at €100,000, with payouts they would have received beyond that redistributed to smaller farms. But member states oppose the idea.

News in Brief

  1. Spain's Sanchez calls snap election on 28 April
  2. 15,000 Belgian school kids march against climate change
  3. May suffers fresh Brexit defeat in parliament
  4. Warning for British banks over Brexit staff relocation
  5. Former Italian PM wants Merkel for top EU post
  6. Antisemitic incidents up 10% in Germany
  7. Italy's asylum rejection rate at record high
  8. Hungary will not claim EU funds for fraudulent project


Eastern Europe Matters

The foreign ministers of Sweden, Poland and the Czech Republic reflect on 10 years of the Eastern Partnership with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Latest News

  1. Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table
  2. Could Finnish presidency fix labour-chain abuse?
  3. Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK
  4. Belgian spy scandal puts EU and Nato at risk
  5. EU Parliament demands Saudi lobby transparency
  6. Saudi Arabia, but not Russia, on EU 'dirty money' list
  7. EU agrees draft copyright reform, riling tech giants
  8. Rutte warns EU to embrace 'Realpolitik' foreign policy

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us