Page last updated at 07:07 GMT, Tuesday, 9 December 2008

NI pigs 'ruled out of pork scare'

Gardai at County Carlow animal feed plant
Police in County Carlow are investigating the contamination

Pigs in Northern Ireland have not consumed feed contaminated with dioxins, the Food Standards Agency has said.

However, 11 NI premises processed pork from the Republic and the meat was put on sale in Northern Ireland.

The agency has advised retailers and consumers that any pork products bought since 1 September should not be eaten.

However, it is hopeful that pork sales can start in Northern Ireland again in a day or two.

Almost 1,400 pork processing workers in the Republic of Ireland have been laid off following the contamination scare.

Pork products from the Republic were recalled over fears that pig feed at an animal meal plant was tainted with oil containing potentially harmful dioxins.

It said it believed no pigs in Northern Ireland had consumed the tainted feed but advised retailers and caterers to "temporarily remove products manufactured in Northern Ireland from sale until they can satisfy themselves that these products don't contain pork sourced from the Republic of Ireland after 1 September".

Eleven businesses in Northern Ireland had received pork from the Republic which was processed and placed on sale locally, it added.

'Low risk'

The Food Standards Agency said adverse health effects were "only likely if people are exposed to relatively high levels of this contaminant for long periods".

Dr Andrew Wadge, director of food safety, said they were ensuring pork from affected farms was removed from shops.

"If anyone's not clear about where the product comes from - they've got it in their fridge or in their freezer - then our advice is to take that back to the point of purchase and get a refund," he said.

Although the risk is said to be low, people are advised not to eat any Irish pork and the health scare has had a devastating effect for the pork industry on both sides of the border.

The trade union Siptu has warned as many as 6,000 jobs are at risk in the Republic's pork industry, estimated to be worth 350m a year.

At the largest pig processor in the Republic, County Offaly-based Rosderra Meats, 850 workers have been laid off and a further 650 put on protective notice.

In Northern Ireland, 26,000 pigs are processed every week but major firms halted slaughtering on Monday and a backlog is building up on farms.

Twelve European Union countries and nine non-EU countries have been affected by the scare.

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