Christmas hams ‘will be available’ - IFA boss
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.