Irish Pig Feed 'Saturated' With Toxins

The level of toxins in the pig feed that caused the recent €220m-plus recall of pork products was more than 5,000 times the EU limit, report the Times.

Such was the concentration that scientists at the UK’s Central Science Laboratory (CSL) in York were initially unable to quantify the level, which went “off the scale”.

Feed samples taken from Millstream Recycling in Carlow were so badly contaminated that all the equipment used in the laboratory had to be “scrupulously cleaned” afterwards, causing a “logistical nightmare” for the scientists.

“We weren’t expecting it to be anywhere near the level that we found,” said Martin Rose, head of the Environmental Contaminants team at the CSL. “It saturated the detector. We injected the sample into the machine and it went off the top of the paper. It was off the calibration range. We knew it was over 2,000 times over the limit, but we could tell that it was probably much higher than that.”

After alerting the Irish authorities to the extreme contamination of both the feed and pig-fat samples, which had 80-200 times the EU limit for dioxins, Rose’s team conducted further tests on the feed. The concentration of chemicals in the samples meant it was too high to measure.

So the scientists had to water down the specimen before attempting to re-analyse the dioxin levels. “We diluted the extract and calculated that there was in excess of 5,000 nanograms of dioxins per kilogram present,” said Rose.