Fears of dioxins In British labelled pork unfounded

Fears that Irish meat could have been labelled British and entered the food chain following further processing are unfounded, according to industry body BPEX.

"We believe that processors and retailers are following Food Standard Agency guidelines, so is it is clear in the supply chain where the pork products originated," said a spokesman for BPEX. "All retailers are scouring their supply chain and where there is any doubt about where the pork originated, they are removing it."

In the meantime, EU members and Japan and China have blocked all shipments of pork and processed pork products that were produced after 1 September, 2008. China has imported 2,047t of pork from Ireland since September.

It is believed that animal feed tainted with dioxins at levels about 100 times the maximum permitted in the EU was sold to 10 pig farms in Ireland. The contaminated feed was also delivered to some cattle farms, but no dairy farms were affected.

"Member states are requested to detain pork meat and products from Ireland and to control for the presence of dioxin and dioxin-like PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls)," said EU health commissioner Androulla Vassiliou.

Contaminated Irish pork and processed pork products were shipped to 12 EU countries and nine non-EU countries and territories. However, the Commission praised Ireland for acting so swiftly, saying no more action was required as of yet.

The 12 EU countries affected are Belgium, Britain, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Sweden and the Netherlands. The nine economies outside the bloc are Canada, Japan, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, China, Hong Kong and the US.

"We can say the measures taken have been fairly exhaustive," said European Commission health spokeswoman Nina Papadoulaki. "The measures that the Irish authorities have taken are considered as sufficient at this stage. Chief veterinary officers from all EU countries will meet on Wednesday to discuss the incident."

Dioxins are byproducts generated mainly through incineration in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries. They can be absorbed through the skin or ingested through food and long-term exposure to some forms and concentrations can cause cancer and other health problems.

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