Page last updated at 12:38 GMT, Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Pork dioxin scare report "whitewash" - Ian Paisley Jnr

By Martin Cassidy
BBC NI Agriculture Correspondent

Pigs
Thousands of pigs were slaughtered in the outbreak

The first official report into the Irish pork and beef contamination scare has found that there was no delay in the Irish authorities' response.

The discovery of animal feed contaminated with dioxins in December 2008 led to one of the biggest food scares seen in Ireland.

More than 30,000 tonnes of pig meat were recalled while 175,000 pigs and cows were slaughtered.

Despite the official findings, some have branded the report a "whitewash".

Published by the Irish farm minister Brendan Smith, it said all of the evidence available suggested the contamination occurred when contaminated fuel was used in an oil-fired burner that generated heat to dry feed at a plant in County Carlow.

Forty-eight farms were identified as having received similar feed from the company - 10 pig farms and 38 beef farms in the Republic.

The company's products were also delivered to seven farms in Northern Ireland.

The scare caused significant economic difficulties for Irish farmers after a number of countries banned the import of their pork.

Origin

The report says laboratory tests carried out by the Environmental Protection Agency showed that the oil used as a fuel in the burner at the plant was contaminated with "polychlorinated biphenyls" which are often termed as dioxin-like PCBs.

"The composition of the PCBs found in the contaminated oil would indicate that transformer oil was the source of the contamination. It appears that the suspect oil that was used as a fuel at Millstream Recycling originated in Northern Ireland."

The circumstances surrounding the sourcing and contamination of the oil is being investigated by the Gardai and the authorities in Northern Ireland.

While the report suggests there was no delay in the handling of the incident, the Chairman of the Assembly's agriculture committee Ian Paisley claimed the report was little more than a whitewash.

He said: "It fails to address the central issues of a lack of information and communication between the minister in one jurisdiction and our own minister here in Northern Ireland."



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SEE ALSO
Q&A: The recall of Irish pork
08 Dec 08 |  UK
Nine NI farms used tainted feed
07 Dec 08 |  Northern Ireland
Irish Republic recalls all pork
07 Dec 08 |  Europe


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