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The Great Irish Pork Recall

All of us who are involved in the farming, processing, curing, smoking, selling and eating pork in its many shapes and forms have been appalled by the events which have unfurled over the last 24 hours or so.

A total recall nationwide, indeed world wide, of Irish Pork products is a shattering blow to all who have enthused about the quality of our meat in Ireland. 

Plenty of detail can be found on the Food Safety Authority of Ireland’s website and they have attempted to justify the TOTAL recall of all Irish pork products produced since September 1st. The effects of PCB Dioxins in the food chain are clearly known and any dioxin should be carefully monitored and avoided of course. However it is the extraordinary haste and severity of the FSAI’s action which has stung producers.

Had the FSAI delayed their announcement for a couple of additional days, they could have established just what products were contaminated and the withdrawal of products could have been done in accordance to the traceability procedures which are now compulsory. The additional couple of days “exposure” to these dioxins would not have had any significant effect. Indeed the FSAI website says:

The FSAI reiterates its advice to consumers not to consume any Irish pork or bacon products. However, it stresses that people should not be alarmed or concerned in relation to the potential risks from dioxin’s found in pork products. A short term peak exposure to dioxins and PCBs does not result in adverse health effects. 

The nature of the total recall appears to negate the necessity for the massive amount of work which food producers have to do to comply with to ensure the traceability  principals of “one step forward, one step back” or “from farm to fork”.

One problem is the vanishing of small local slaughterhouses in Ireland (see Ivan McCutcheons outstanding blog on Local Abattoirs: What’s at Steak from mid November). Now with a few slaughterhouses killing pigs and  cattle from many different farms on the same day, traceability back to the individual farm is very difficult. But we know where our smoked chickens are grown, and we state the name of the farmer on the label; we know where the beef in the shops come from as the label says so too; but pigs….. why not pigs?

Ireland has a reputation for having one of the most stringent regimes in the world when it comes to implementing food safety procedures; there are good reasons why this is should be so, but let us have some reality in the implementation a recall that is far too sweeping, too premature and far too damaging to our very very fragile economy.

It is with much regret that we have taken our Smoked Dry Cured Bacon off our website for the moment. We  have contacted all who have purchased our bacon, both shops and individuals, since September 1st in accordance to the requirements of the FSAI.

We hope that we will have our bacon avaiable again in a couple of days; you will have to watch this space! Better still sign up for email updates in the box on the right hand side of this page.

I can recommend you to look at Conor’s Bandon Blog for some great comments! If your a twitter (and better still if you are not) then go to www.twitter.com/ummera for some snippets!

5 thoughts on “The Great Irish Pork Recall

  1. The more we learn about this story the more the bureaucratic incompetence is laid bare. If Mary Harney is looking for a few million for the HPV vaccine I can think of a few state bodies which can safely be recalled/culled along with the pork.

  2. […] But I know this recall isn’t really about health, if dioxins had such an immediate and traceable effect they’d block our chimneys and ban cigarettes entirely. It’s about the meat industry again and it’s about pressure for cheap food, costs and shortcuts again, it’s about consumer confidence in the supermarket aisles and protecting the big bacon players, many of whom are actually selling imported meat. Oh the irony! But as usual those hardest hit will be the small processors and farmers who will find it hard to sustain the blow of this overreactive blanket ban – Anthony Creswell at Ummera Smoked Products has a great post on this […]

  3. I also can’t understand why the recall did not exclude smaller organic producers who could confirm that their pigmeat sources were clean. But what I would also like to know is what other nasty stuff goes legally into our pigs–antibiotics and God knows what else–and whether organic producers use these too, and whether other countries’ pigmeat industries do.

  4. I’m shocked by how our gov is handling this one.
    During a recession, in the lead up to Christmas. They haven’t just shot small pork processors in the foot. They’ve amputated the whole leg.

  5. The problem is not just confined to the small producers, Quin.
    The big ones who, through no fault of their own, are paying a drastic price for the premature action by Government in elevating what was a very serious incident, and no one should doubt that, but it was not life threatening as many health agencies around the world have agreed.
    It comes of no surprise that governments from many countries around the world are saying that the Irish Government took the correct action. Of course they would say that, wouldn’t they.
    I have not heard – as yet – anyone from the FSAI or Government explain why, if it was not a health hazard, they launched this nationwise (and now international) recall.
    To say that it was to ensure the credibility of the Irish meat industry cross the world is humbug. I hope that someone very, very soon will admit that they got it wrong.
    But they won’t. They are politicians and civil servants, tarred with the same brush that covers up the truth……..
    Best stop now!

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