Firm at centre of toxin scare investigatedTuesday 09 December 2008 20.30
Gardaí are investigating the activities of a company at the centre of the pig feed contamination which has resulted in the complete recall of Irish pork products.
Millstream Power Recycling Limited is located just outside Fenagh, Co Carlow.
It is understood that all production at the plant was stopped earlier this week, when the possibility of a link between it and the contaminated feed was first made.
Millstream Power Recycling Ltd confirmed tonight that it is working with Department of Agriculture & Food officials to identify the source of PCBs found in pig meal.
David Curtin, who represents the firm, said there would be no further statement until the results of tests carried out by the Department were known.
However, he denied reports that an industrial oil had been used in the animal feed.
Mr Curtin said oil is used to power the machinery that processes the food stuff, but he does not know yet if this could be the source of the contamination.
Meanwhile, the Taoiseach has indicated that pork products that are not affected by contamination will be back on supermarket shelves around the country within days.
Speaking in Mullingar, Mr Cowen defended the Government's decision to support the withdrawal of pork products from supermarkets.
The State's Chief Veterinary Officer Paddy Rogan said contaminated pig meat may have reached around 20-25 other countries.
Mr Rogan says he anticipates that pig plants will start slaughtering again tomorrow.
Speaking at a briefing at the Department of Agriculture, he said the aim was to put a safe product back in the system and to get 'Ireland PLC' back in the market place
Doubts over oil used in animal feed preparation
Minister for Food Trevor Sargent has said identifying the source of contamination of Irish pork with a chemical dioxin would have been quicker if dioxin monitoring equipment had been available here instead of having to send samples to England for testing.
Mr Sargent also said over 30 farms were restricted to beef to avoid contamination.
He said there were suspicions that oil used in the preparation of animal feed at one licensed mill was not of a food grade and may have been responsible for the contamination of pork.
Aidan Cotter, Chief Executive of Bord Bia, said he had full confidence in the authorities and recovery would be helped by the speed with which the authorities reacted.
Irish pork removed from retailers
Supermarkets and other retail outlets have been removing all Irish pig meat and related products from their shelves and consumers are also asked to bin all pork and bacon in their homes.
That includes pork, bacon, rashers, sausages, gammon steaks, salami, ham, sausage rolls, black pudding, white pudding and ready meals with Irish pork/bacon as an ingredient.
Restaurants are also affected. An employee at the Four Star Pizza location in Dublin says all pork toppings are not being offered right now, except for bacon which is not sourced from Ireland.
Other chains like Godfather's and Domino's are still offering pork products because they are sourced from outside of Ireland.
Speaking on RTÉ radio this morning, FSA Deputy Chief Executive Alan Reilly the total recall was necessary as a precautionary measure to remove all pork products.
He said he expected pork products to be back in the shops by Christmas.
The FSA have set up a helpline and put more information on their website (click here for more information).
The National Consumer Agency has said that consumers are entitled to be refunded on pork products purchased after 1 September.
The Agency said that, while in general, consumers should have proof of purchase, it would urge all retailers to be reasonable about refunds.
The Department of Health's Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said the dioxin is only dangerous if a person is exposed to it over a long period of time, but he stressed that people did not need to seek medical help in the current situation because any exposure to the chemical was quite short.
Contaminated animal feed blamed
Movement of animals on 47 farms which used the feed has had to be restricted, but it is thought that there will be no implications for the 38 beef farms involved.
Only nine pig farms got feed from the source of the contamination.
Pig producers on the 400 unaffected farms are hoping to have fresh product on the shelves later this week.
However, a major operation lies ahead in locating and destroying the pig meat which is in circulation at present.
The European Commission has said Ireland acted well and quickly in response to the situation. An official said the Commission had the impression that the Irish authorities were taking the right measures.
DEFRA, Britain's Department of Agriculture, says it is monitoring the situation in Ireland closely.
In a statement issued tonight, DEFRA said it is in close contact with the FSA and understands that the Authority is meeting with industry representatives tomorrow to continue its evaluation of the potential implications for Britain and trace any farms which may have used contaminated feed.
Nine farms in NI affected
Nine farms in Northern Ireland have used the same contaminated animal feed which has led to a recall of all pig products processed in the Republic.
The North's Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew confirmed restrictions have been placed on the farms which were identified by her department's electronic monitoring system.
EU veterinary experts to meet over dioxin scare
The European Commission says EU veterinary experts will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday to assess the fallout from the dioxin scare.
Although the EU has welcomed the Government's response as ‘timely’, one option may be a complete EU wide ban on Irish pigmeat products.
Following the major food scares of the 1990s, such as BSE and a dioxin scandal in Belgium, the EU set up a stricter food monitoring system - so-called farm-to-fork - to ensure the traceability of contaminated products.
The EU also set up a rapid alert system so that member states would informed immediately there was a problem of contamination discovered anywhere within Europe.
Both measures were introduced by Ireland's previous commissioner David Byrne.
Germany has ordered Irish pig meat products off the shelves.