Agriculture MEP Dismay at Irish Dioxin Scare

07 December 2008
Scotland's only full member of the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee is today (Sunday) on his way to Brussels to discuss the news that the Irish Republic has recalled all pig meat and products produced since 1 September after dioxin levels some 200 times over safe levels have been found in routine tests. Mr Smith will discuss the developing crisis with Commission officials responsible for monitoring cross border trade in foodstuffs as well as Scottish Government officials.

Smith commented:

"This is awful news, and just what the pig sector does not need after a disastrous few years, my heart goes out to them. It must be stressed that all the science says there is little to no risk to people, but the scale of this recall, some three and a half months of national production, does indicate how seriously the Irish are taking this and rightly so.

"There are a number of steps which we now need to take to ensure consumer safety and, crucially, consumer confidence. The border controls which have already come into operation are I'm told working well enough, and the job of tracing the pig meat and products is underway. I will be in touch with the European Commission officials tomorrow to discuss how the restrictions are working and will ensure Scottish government officials, as well as Food Standards Agency personnel, are kept in the loop.

"The immediate priority for the Irish has to be the source of the contamination. For chemicals, polychlorinated biphenyls, (PCBs) banned in Ireland since the 1970s to appear in pig meat seems very odd, and I have no doubt that the Irish are working hard to find the source and we should have some actual facts in the next few days.

"Meantime, I have regular talks with the Irish farming organisations in Brussels, Irish farming is similar to Scottish in a number of ways and my heart goes out to them. Of course, history has shown that most crises are the responsibility of a few sloppy individuals, and should however the ongoing criminal investigations find that anyone was irresponsible, then I would hope that they will be hung out to dry for inflicting this consumer crisis on the entire sector."