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No Irish pork or feed here: CFIA

Canada has no record of taking in direct shipments of pork, pork products or feed from Ireland in the midst of a major meat recall there.

That’s according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which said in a statement Tuesday it is monitoring a recall by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) of all products produced from pigs slaughtered in Ireland from Sept. 1 onward.

The recall followed the detection of high levels of dioxins from PCBs (polychlorinated biphenols, toxic compounds produced in some industries’ wastes) in livestock feed. The PCBs were reportedly produced at a feed plant when non-food-grade oil was used as a fuel to dry waste food for processing into livestock feed.

The Reuters news agency on Monday quoted a European Commission statement that potentially-contaminated Irish pork had been shipped to 21 countries and territories, naming Canada, the U.S., Russia, Japan and some EU member nations.

“If CFIA identifies a source of contamination and determines that pork from Ireland may have entered distribution for export to Canada, we will take immediate action to advise the public and verify the effective removal of the product from the marketplace,” CFIA said in its statement Tuesday.

Ireland’s chief veterinary officer Paddy Rogan announced Tuesday that the republic’s ag department had also detected “non-dioxin-like” PCBs in three cattle herds associated with the potentially contaminated feed. Another eight herds among 45 to be tested have so far got the “all-clear.”

While the PCBs in the three herds are at levels too low to pose a threat to human health, the animals on the three affected farms will all be slaughtered and taken out of the food and feed chain, and no products from those herds would be released onto the market, Rogan said in a release. FSAI said Tuesday there is no need for a consumer-level recall of Irish beef as a result.

Irish cattle are primarily fed on grass and cattle farmers rely on purchased feed to a much lesser extent than pig farmers, Rogan said.

Low risk

In any case, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) noted on Wednesday that if someone ate an average amount of Irish pork each day throughout the 90 days of this incident, with 10 per cent of the pork found to be at the highest reported concentration of dioxins, then the amounts of chemicals such as dioxins that accumulate and stay in the body over time would increase by about 10 per cent. “EFSA considers this increase to be of no concern for this single event,” the agency said.

In the extreme, EFSA said, if someone ate a “large amount” of Irish pork daily for the 90 days in question, all of which was at the highest reported concentration of dioxins, the safety margin in the math for tolerable weekly intake (TWI) would be “considerably undermined.”

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