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Traceability & the FSAI

Yesterday Dr. Alan O’Reilly of the FSAI told the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture that there were three reasons to justify the withdrawal of all pork products from Ireland’ shelves last month. See report in The Irish Times today.

His third reason was the most worrying: “It was not possible to distinguish between contaminated and uncontaminated products in about 98 per cent of the national pork throughput. Reminding the committee that pork was back on the shelves within a week, he said if all pork had been left on the shelves, it would have been impossible to trace contaminated products.”

So much for the traceability that the FSAI themselves have imposed on us.

98% of pork products are NOT traceable?

Our supplier of bacon for curing is only able to give us full traceability if we get pork killed on a Monday. Any other day, and we will only know that it came from one of maybe 5 to 10 herds. We’ll be getting our bacon from the Monday batch from now on. And we will put the name of the grower on the label.

If the FSAI insist on us implementing all the “controls” for “one step forward one step back”, then let’s make it applicable for ALL steps.

Update: Please see Comment below.

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Release all pork products NOW.

The following Press Release clearly confirms that there is NO risk to your health from eating Irish pork products now, in the past or in the future.

Let the authorities lift their ban on the sale of all pork, both recalled and in process.

There is NO justification whatsoever for continuing this disasterous state of affairs.  

Even if the pork comes from pigs which have been fed on the feed from the Carlow Mills, that too should be available for sale. There is a very very low level of risk but only  if you eat pork three times a day, seven days a week.

European Food Safety Authority Reaffirms FSAI Scientific Risk Assessment on Irish Pork

10 December 2008


Confirmation of a low level of risk associated with the consumption of Irish pork potentially containing the level of dioxins identified by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) reaffirms the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) risk assessment earlier this week. EFSA stated today that there is no concern for consumers based on the assumption of exposure over the period of time identified and that effective measures have been taken to remove excessive exposure from Irish pork and pork products. The EFSA Opinion supports the risk management decision to recall all Irish pork and bacon products, thus reducing the time of exposure to potentially contaminated product.

The European Commission requested EFSA to carry out a scientific risk assessment for human health related to the possible presence of dioxins in pork and pork products and its findings corroborate the FSAI’s opinion based on its own risk assessment issued on Sunday night.

The FSAI is reviewing the EFSA risk assessment on composite products containing low levels of pork and is of the view that these pose minimal risk to consumer health.

According to Mr Alan Reilly, Deputy Chief Executive, EFSA’s Opinion provides another reassurance to consumers that there is no cause for concern and any risk to health is extremely low for consumers. He reiterated that the product recall was taken as a precautionary measure to protect consumer health from products containing an illegal amount of dioxins.

EFSA’s Opinion can be found on

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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 for some snippets!