Monday, December 8, 2008

Irish police probe contaminated pork scare

Irish police probe contaminated pork scare

Police are investigating how pork from ten Irish farms became contaminated with dioxins, forcing Dublin to recall all pork products from pigs slaughtered in Ireland, Irish authorities told CNN Monday.

The ten farms were found to have used pig feed sold to them by a company called Millstream Power Recycling Limited in County Carlow in the south of the country, Agriculture Department spokeswoman Martina Carney said.

The company recycles other foodstuffs to make meal which is then fed to animals.

This is part of the impetus for the growing local foods movement. The very thing that was supposed to occur with government control of the food chain is not happening- that is, the food is not safe. Thanks to billions of dollars in subsidies, it may be cheaper. But the subtitle to a Walmart documentary rings in my head more and more often these days- "the high cost of low-price". You may be able to buy cheap eggs at the grocery store, but is it "worth" it?

CNN compiled a brief list of food-related scares over the last few years, although it's nowhere near comprehensive. For instance, the salmonella outbreak this year didn't make the list, despite lasting 5 months and sickening 1,400 people. Anyway, here's the CNN list for what it's worth:


In China, at least six babies are known to have died after drinking milk contaminated with melamine this year, while nearly 300,000 have been reported ill. Melamine is commonly used to make plastic products but had been added to food products to boost its protein content.

Other countries have reported excessive levels on melamine in products sourced from China. So far the list includes frozen yogurt desserts, biscuits, candies and packaged coffee-flavored drinks.

The World Health Organization says all the products were likely made from contaminated milk, and non-dairy products, for example eggs, were probably contaminated through animal-feed laced with melamine.

This month in Nigeria, more than 30 babies have died after being given a locally-made medicine to relieve teething pain called "My Pikin." The liquid syrup was found to contain diethylene glycol, a chemical found in commercial products such as resins, antifreeze, inks and glues which causes kidney problems.

Earlier this year a potentially lethal pesticide called methamidophos was found in "gyoza" meat dumplings produced in China. Ten people fell ill in Japan provoking a crisis in confidence in Chinese food exports and threatening trade relations between Japan and China.


Last year, British poultry manufacturer Bernard Matthews was forced to cull almost 160,000 birds after the country's first mass outbreak of the H5N1, the human strain of avian influenza or bird flu. The H5N1 strain surfaced in South East Asia in early 2004 and later spread through Europe and Africa leading to the destruction of some 28 million birds.

Duck eggs sparked a scare in Hong Kong and several Chinese cities in 2007 when a carcinogenic dye, Sudan IV, was found to have been used to make the yolks of "red yolk" eggs even redder. The same dye was detected in chili powder the same year at a factory in China.

Cancer-causing chemicals were also found in fish from several farms in China's eastern Shandon province. They included malachite green, a topical fungicide used to treat parasites and fungal infections in fish.


The Salmonella bacteria was held to blame in 2006 when 40 people fell ill after eating Cadbury chocolates. The company recalled more than one million chocolate bars in the United Kingdom, but was later fined $1.5 million for knowingly selling contaminated products.

Earlier still

The most serious food scare ever seen in the United Kingdom came during the 1980s and 1990s when a disease found in cows made the leap to humans.

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or BSE, was first detected during a post-mortem of a cow in West Sussex, England in 1986.

The human variant, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), killed its first victim in 1995, prompting the European Commission to impose a worldwide export ban on British beef which was eventually lifted in 1999.

In the following years, BSE was discovered in Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Falkland Islands, France, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Oman, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland and the U.S.

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