Reaction to the Irish Pork inspection

09/12/2008 - 00:00
In response to the latest Irish pork investigation, Philip Lowery, director of the Real Food Festival, says this is one of the major problems of industrialised food production.

Following yesterday's warning that consumers must not eat pork or pork products which are labelled as being the Irish Republic or Northern Ireland, The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has reiterated its advice as a result of ongoing investigations. Following further enquiries by the Food Safety Authority Ireland (FSAI), it has been confirmed only ten pig farms in the Republic of Ireland were supplied with feed contaminated with dioxins. Pigs from these farms have been supplied to four processors. The FSA is currently advising retailers and caterers to remove from sale products manufactured from 1 September 2008 in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, and manufacturers to not use pork from products manufactured also from 1 September 2008 in the same region. Mr Lowery commented: "This latest food scandal affecting the Irish pig industry simply highlights yet again the problems of industrialised food production. We should question the trust we have in any system that puts shareholders' returns above the values of good husbandry." Lowery said it is a matter of trust when it comes down to food: "The Irish government seem to be focused solely on the losses that will be suffered by its pig industry, the effects on the Irish economy and how this was bad timing for a government currently under scrutiny. Where is their concern for people's health? Can we really trust our elected governments to look after our interests rather than those of the big food industrialists?" "Once again we get a glimpse of how large some of these food production operations really are and the opaque nature of our food labelling. Just one supplier of contaminated feed has caused the recall of all Irish pork products not just from Ireland but from a further 25 countries. With the possibility that these potentially toxic PCBs have been in the food chain for over 3 months, it is no wonder that Governments and industry backed bodies have felt the need to wheel out eminent academics to play down the risk to human health. So where do we go from here? "It is time we took a real hard look at who is supplying the food we eat and where it is coming from", believes Lowery. "Michael Pollan, one of the world's leading food and agriculture writers, puts it very succinctly – 'You are what what you eat eats' – if we do not pause to think about the moral, environmental and health issues of this statement then we will continue to lurch from one public or animal health crisis to another." Lowery added: "We should be re-discovering the pleasure in our food, not worrying about our food safety, and by re-connecting more with where our food comes from and how it is produced, we can start to regain trust in our food system. The Real Food Festival actively promotes this way of eating, promoting local, clean, ethical and sustainable food production from hundreds of small producers of the best tasting food and drink we can find."

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