Christ­mas hams ‘will be avail­able’ - IFA boss

Bray People - - Pork Crisis - Myles BUCHANAN

WICK­LOW IFA Chair­man De­clan O’Neill feels there is no rea­son the Ir­ish pork in­dus­try shouldn’t be able to sup­ply the tra­di­tional Christ­mas ham to con­sumers de­spite the de­struc­tion of 100,000 pigs be­cause of the pig meat cri­sis.

Su­per­mar­kets were forced to with­draw all Ir­ish pig meats from their shelves and the pub­lic have been told to re­turn all pork prod­ucts pur­chased since Septem­ber.

The dras­tic mea­sures were re­quired af­ter the dis­cov­ery of danger­ous diox­ins, known as PCBs, in pig meat. The con­tam­i­na­tion is set to cost the Ir­ish food in­dus­try bil­lions and the Gov­ern­ment acted swiftly to ease pub­lic con­cern by con­tin­u­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions at 10 pig farms and 38 beef farms in the Repub­lic.

It’s by far the big­gest food scare the coun­try has faced since BSE. Pig pro­duc­ers aren’t as big in Wick­low as other coun­ties but an­nu­ally the in­dus­try is worth €500 mil­lion and cre­ates 7,000 jobs na­tion­wide.

Mr. O’Neill says the cri­sis couldn’t have come at a worse time. ‘It’s a cycli­cal busi­ness and things were just beginning to pick up again. ‘Ob­vi­ously Christ­mas is a very im­por­tant time of year for the pig in­dus­try so the tim­ing of this couldn’t have been much worse.’

How­ever, he points out that over 90 per cent of Ir­ish pro­duc­tion was com­pletely free of any con­nec­tion to the sin­gle source of con­tam­i­nated feed.

‘The with­drawal of pork prod­ucts is a pre­cau­tion­ary move, not a safety is­sue. Only 10 farms are be­ing in­ves­ti­gated and the other 490 are per­fectly okay. I want to see pig meats back in pro­duc­tion and back on the shelves as soon as pos­si­ble. I think peo­ple will still be able to buy their hams in time for Christ­mas.’

Tesco’s re­call no­tice.

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