If follows the receipt of dioxin results from three Northern Irish herds affected by contaminated feed which exceeded permitted limits. However, the risk to public health remains very low, the FSA said, as any cattle and beef that have been withheld since Tuesday 9 December would not enter the food chain.
This action mirrors the approach of the Republic of Ireland, which announced the trade withdrawal of some meat from the food chain on Friday 19 December, following test results showing dioxin levels above permitted limits present in meat.
The results of dioxin tests for the remaining five herds are still pending. In the meantime, the FSA said that the cattle and meat from these animals will continue to be held on the relevant farms and at meat processing plants.
Meat processors have informed the Agency that there was no longer any affected meat in the shops, although some may have reached consumers before the notification of this incident. The FSA said people should not worry as the risk to health from this incident was very low and retailers were not required to take any action to withdraw or recall products. The actual number of cattle farms affected represents less than 0.03% of the total number of cattle farms in Northern Ireland.
Dioxins are chemicals that get into food from the environment and are associated with a range of health effects when there is a long term exposure to them at relatively high levels.