The Report on the Contamination of Irish Pork Products by the Irish Joint Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Food fails to find an answer to one intriguing question and struggles over the “proportionality of the response” issue.
Just how did the animal feed get contaminated? The Committee says:
“In this instance, the source of the contamination was contaminated oil operating a burner being used to dry bread prior to its inclusion in animal feed. In a way that is not at all clear to the Committee, exhaust fumes from the oil were allowed to blow over the feed material and thereby contaminate it with dioxin.”
It would appear that no one thought that contamination could be caused by this, and as such was never considered in any food safety issues at the plant where it occurred. The fact that inspections were a little erratic probably had little effect.
On the question of “The proportionality of the response in dealing with the contamination incident” the Committee found that in balance the FSAI acted correctly, given the inadequacies of the traceability system in place. They had little option but to say this, although they do raise the question as to why no other country put a recall in place and why, when high levels of PCB’s were reported in September and October in three other EU countries , was there no action taken before the FSAI took the “nuclear” option.
The report does highlight the plight of the artisan producers who could provide full traceability and who felt strongly that the total recall was unnecessary. Sadly it was an “all or nothing” choice and the “Committee accepts that the traceability problems with respect to pork meant the recall was the best available option.”
The challenge of traceability within the pork industry is discussed and clearly this must be addressed in the near future. The processors do have challenges, but with the larger cuts of pork, legs, hams, and bacon full traceabilitycan be implemented quite easily; it is the meat used for sausages, salamis, pates etc that give the real problem. But other countries have solved it so ………
We have commented on these pages about the problem as it unfurled (click on the Pork under Categories on the right hand side for all our posts on this subject), and there is little in the report which is makes us want to change our comments.
The report can be downloaded from this link . Be warned, although it is only 33 pages, it is 18 MB in size!