Dioxin: Cattle to be Slaughtered on 21 Farms

IRELAND - The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI), in consultation with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (DAFF), today confirmed that it has reviewed and assessed results received in relation to further tests carried out on four beef samples that were identified last week as positive for marker PCBs.
calendar icon 19 December 2008
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The results identify dioxin contamination, in line with the results from the analysis of the pork samples. While the levels detected were above the legal limits, risk to public health is extremely low. The risk assessment carried out by the FSAI today indicates that based on food consumption data, the exposure from beef is 300 times lower than that posed by the pork contamination. Therefore, consumers should have no concerns in relation to health risks and retailers are not required to take any action.

Farms that could have potentially used contaminated feed have been restricted since 5th December. Today, DAFF confirms that 21 out of 120,000 cattle farms in Ireland have been identified as receiving the implicated animal feed. As a strictly precautionary measure, given dioxin contamination has now been confirmed in the four samples, the FSAI is recommending to DAFF that cattle which are locked down from these 21 farms should now be slaughtered and not allowed enter the food chain. The trade withdrawal of implicated carcasses from any of the 21 farms which was initiated last Tuesday is continuing, and these too will not enter the food chain.

Initially, 52 farms were identified as potentially having received contaminated feed – however, it is now confirmed that only 21 farms actually took possession of this feed. The actual number of cattle farms is extremely low, representing 0.02% of the total national number of cattle farms.

According to Mr Alan Reilly, Deputy Chief Executive, FSAI the dioxin levels in the four samples were higher than those found in the pork products. However, the level of concern is lower due to the lower likely exposure and the superior traceability systems that apply to beef that allow implicated product to be identified, isolated and withdrawn from the market. The extent of this contamination incident has now been determined and the FSAI is satisfied that appropriate action has been taken.

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