Irish Pork Contamination Spreads to Beef; EU Seeks Answers
The Irish pork scare may have contaminated livestock in the United Kingdom, according to new reports. Some of the contaminated pork from the Republic of Ireland may have been given to cattle in Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK. The meat from that cattle could already be on its way to circulation within the UK.
The news came after it was claimed that some UK supermarkets may be not be able to quickly identify pork which is safe from the Irish food scare.
Although Tesco moved swiftly following yesterday's announcement that Northern Ireland-fed pigs were not contaminated, other shops may not have such sophisticated tracing systems in place, the Ulster Farmers' Union (UFU) warned.
Up to 200 times the safe level of potentially cancer-causing dioxins have been discovered in some feed for pigs in the Republic of Ireland.
A UFU spokesman said: "It depends on each supermarket's ability to trace each particular batch. Some may not have the same systems as Tesco in place."
According to the Food Standards Agency, the contaminated feed given to the cattle would not get into the food chain.
The farms "received potentially contaminated feed," the country's Department of Agriculture said in a statement Tuesday.
Officials carried out tests on 11 herds and found three had unacceptably high levels of PCBs, a type of chemical that can cause cancer.
The department insists there is "no public health concern," though it admitted the samples were "technically non-compliant." The other eight herds tested clear, the government said.
The EU is allowing the UK to the end of today to explain how the contamination occurred, and what they plan to do to contain it.
"It's a UK decision (to take action)," an official at the European Commission said, but added that Brussels had the power to enforce export and trade restrictions if its food safety experts became concerned about any potential health risk. "They have to provide detailed information by today at the latest as regards the UK government's actions for pigs and pigmeat products originating from nine affected farms in Northern Ireland," the official said. Pork and processed products containing meat from the farms that received the tainted feed were shipped to 12 European Union countries and nine non-EU countries and territories. The Commission has praised Ireland for acting so swiftly, saying no more action was required at the moment.
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