VEGA News Item

The Penalty of Pig Ignorance - 08/12/2008
The Irish Crisis Tells of More Harm from the Meat Industry
1. The Food Agency in the Republic has recalled all pork products made in the country since the beginning of September. It is expected today that 100,000 Irish pigs are to be culled in the wake of “the country’s biggest food scare since BSE.” Nine farms in Northern Ireland have been identified as having used the contaminated pig feed suspected as the source in the Republic; however, no pigs have yet tested positive in Northern Ireland. Britain’s Food Standards Agency is adopting rigorous precautionary principles; the food and retailing side is making urgent assessments of traceability and recalls of stocks. It is estimated that €125m worth of food products in Ireland and in export markets – including up to 25 countries worldwide – will have to be destroyed.

2. Contaminated pig meat may have reached 20 to 25 other countries declares Paddy Rogan, the Irish Republic’s Chief Veterinary Officer. Just over 8% of Britain’s imports of pig meat, 51,700 tonnes in the first nine months of the year, comes from the Republic. The suspected contaminants are PCB’s which are persistent fat-soluble (lipophilic) toxins of usually industrial origins lingering in the environment. Leakages from machinery and “wastes” are suspected sources and have already led to reservations over the consumption of fish, wild and farmed and at environmental risk.

3. The dioxins were initially detected in the present crisis in the Republic in a consignment of feed supplied by a feed recycling plant. Millstream Power Recycling says that officials are testing an oil which had never been added as an ingredient but which was used in a machine for drying feedstuffs. The Republic’s agriculture Minister reports that 47 farms including 38 beef farms have been placed under movement restriction “as having received possibly contaminated feed.”

4. Consumers and retailers in the Irish Republic are being told to destroy all Irish pork and bacon bought since 1 September 2008. Dioxins are formed in the incineration of “waste” and occur widely at low levels, but some are highly toxic – and the suspect pigs are apparently very heavily affected – and they can cause cancer and damage to reproductive and immune systems. Disposals of the culled animals and exhaustive testing of other animal-derived products from Ireland, which include beef and dairy products, as well as livestock, will now have to proceed on a grand and widening scale. The crisis and flaws in labelling and traceability farm to fork, will consternate the retailers and food monitoring agencies.

5. Animal feeds may be compounded from discarded foods, rejected for reasons of staleness or efforts at value-adding of unsold stocks diverted from landfill sites. They would comprise materials discarded by caterers, food (and other feed processors), and bakeries, which need to be traced back further along the food chain. Apparently estimable means of reducing “waste” and landfill must also be critically overhauled.

6. Butchers used to joke that everything of the pig was used bar the squeal. Swill for pigs from restaurants, hospitals, schools and in many institutions has been found in the past by VEGA to contain additions such as rags, scourers, and cutlery, as well as detergent. “Waste” is certainly more than wilting fruit and vegetables.

7. Good reason then for a general reduction of consumption from intensive farming by resort to the meat-free, dairy-free, and cruelty-free options in our Portfolio of eating plans.  

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