A shopper inspects Irish pork products at a supermarket in Belfast over the weekend.
A dioxin scare involving pork from Ireland has triggered the recall of all pork products from pigs slaughtered in the country, including products that were exported elsewhere in Europe.
Ten farms appear to be involved as they were determined to have used pig feed sold by a company called Millstream Power Recycling Limited in County Carlow, in the southern portion of the country, said Martina Carney, Ireland's Agriculture Department spokesperson. The company recycles other foodstuffs to make meal which is then fed to animals.
According to The Associated Press , food safety officials traced the problem to "one small animal-food maker" that supplied oil-tainted feed to 10 pig farms in the Republic of Ireland and nine in Northern Ireland.
Only a "handful of pigs" at the 10 restricted farms have been slaughtered so far, Paddy Rogan, Ireland's chief veterinary adviser, said. However, all of them — estimated at 100,000 or about one in 30 pigs in the country -- would eventually be destroyed so that they cannot enter the food chain, AP reported.
Authorities say 490 farms have been declared dioxin-free, but hog slaughtering and pork sales remain on hold. Ireland's Department of Agriculture is working with a meat-marketing organization called Bord Bia to ensure that sales of Irish pork resume by the end of the week.
The fresh pork, slaughtered this week, will be labeled with special stickers designed to reassure customers about its safety.
According to CNN, the European Commission has arranged an emergency meeting between representatives from Ireland and affected member states.
Preliminary evidence gathered by Ireland's Food Safety Authority indicated that the contamination likely started in September. The Food Safety Authority advised consumers not to consume Irish pork and bacon products for the time being. Meanwhile, the government is trying to determine the contamination's scope.
Dioxins are environmental contaminants, often present in industrial waste. Most dioxin exposure occurs through diet, with more than 95 percent coming from the consumption of animal fats, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Dioxin levels in food are regulated.
According to Tony Holohan, MD, Ireland's chief medical officer, dioxin usually impacts the nervous system and liver; he indicated that it would only be perilous through prolonged exposure.
IFSA officials believe that an animal-feed ingredient supplied by one business to 40-plus farms is the likely cause of the dioxin, and that tests revealed the dioxin polychlorinated biphenyls to be 80 to 200 times above the acceptable safety level