Press Release

Dioxins and Pork Meat – Statement by Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer of the Department of Health and Children on Monday, 8th December, 2008

The Chief Medical Officer of the Department of Health and Children made the following statement today.

” All pork products have been recalled as a precautionary measure to protect public health. This recall was issued on Saturday 6th December by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.”

As Chief Medical Officer my priority is the health of the public. It is important that consumers and health professionals understand that my advice is based on the best information and expertise available. Consequently, my advice is as follows:

•Irish pork products produced since 1st September 2008 should not be consumed. A list of affected products as well as other information is available from the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (www.fsai.ie)
•Any risk that arises to health from having consumed Irish pork products prior to the product recall is extremely low.
•There is no need for people to seek direct medical advice in relation to this issue.

Background to this advice

•An expert group of the best medical and scientific opinion in Ireland has been convened by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland to provide advice to me. This group in turn has access to the best European level of expertise through the European Foods Standards Agency & World Health Organisation.
•This group conducted an assessment of maximum likely exposure levels on Sunday 7th December. It shows that the exposure that has taken place in this incident is similar to that which occurred in a similar case in Belgium in 1999. The Belgium incident covered a slightly longer time period prior to the recall on contaminated products.
•It is on that basis that we are able to reassure the public that we do not anticipate any public health repercussions.
•My office is also in close consultation with the Chemical Pathology group of the Faculty of Pathology of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland.
•The Expert group is meeting regularly to monitor the situation. As new information comes to hand it will be made public.

The Membership of the Expert group is as follows:

Dr Iona Pratt (Chair), Toxicologist, Food Safety Authority of Ireland
Dr Joe Tracey, Director of the National Poisons Information Centre, Beaumont Hospital
Prof Patrick Wall, Associate Professor of Public Health, University College Dublin
Dr Philip Mayne, Consultant Paediatric Chemical Pathologist, Children’s University Hospital, Temple Street
Prof Dan Collins, Professor of Veterinary Medicine (Retd.), University College Dublin
Dr Brian Redehan, Chief Specialist in Public Health, Food Safety Authority of Ireland
Dr Kevin Kelleher, Assistant National Director of Health Protection, Health Service Executive
Dr Dominique Crowley, Specialist in Public Health, Health Service Executive