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Recalled Pork Still in Storage a Year After Scare

by 5m Editor
24 December 2009, at 8:07am

IRELAND - Recalled meat remains in storage in Russia and Portugal a year on from the pork dioxin scare.

The Government's bill for the costs associated with the pork crisis has already hit €118m, as claims continue to be lodged, according to Independent.ie.

Millions of euro worth of pigmeat products were pulled from shop shelves and butchers in Ireland and recalled from more than 20 countries worldwide last December, after routine tests showed an unacceptably high level of dioxins in meat on a small number of farms.

Exports to Russia and China - which were estimated to account for under 4pc of the €307m annual pigmeat exports - remain closed.

The impact of the dioxin scare was still being felt a full 12 months later, as the Department of Agriculture stated it was not yet possible to estimate how much more would be spent on the massive recall from the overseas market.

Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith, who agreed a €180m compensation package for pork processors, said the monies were not expected to be drawn down in their entirety.

But the Irish Association of Pigmeat Processors (IAPP) confirmed there was still a "considerable amount" of money to be paid over to the sector.

So far around €28.3m has been paid to producers and other parties from the culling of close to 100,000 pigs and some cattle. The primary processors were paid €41m, a further €44m went to secondary processors, and €5m was spent on rendering the product.

The IAPP's director Cormac Healy said around 70pc of the funds owed to primary processors had been paid. "So there is still a substantial amount outstanding that we will have to get as soon as possible," he said.

But he said a delay in the payout of monies, with part of the funds involving state aid from the EU, had brought further challenges during a very difficult year.

The department confirmed that around 210 tonnes of meat remained in Russia, and a further 30 tonnes were in Portugal, while "valid claims" had yet to be lodged by the processors concerned.

But this is a fraction of the 30,000 tonnes of recalled product already dealt with.

"It is not possible therefore to estimate the total costs associated with this product," a spokeswoman said.

Most of the pigmeat products were brought back to Ireland for destruction. However, it was also verified and destroyed abroad where arrangements could be made, the IAPP said. It is expected the remaining product may be destroyed abroad.

Bord Bia launched a PR blitz to protect the multi-million euro industry estimated to employ up to 6,000 people in the aftermath of the food scare. It confirmed a full restoration of trade in its main markets. Work is under way with the embassies in Moscow and Shanghai.

Despite the recession, consumer demand for pork, bacon and sausages at home has been strong, with figures from TNS retail showing the sales volume increased in the first half of the year.