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Pork scare approach 'disjointed'

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Health Minister Michael McGimpsey was not initially told about the dioxin contamination of animals in Northern Ireland, a report found

Health Minister Michael McGimpsey was not initially told about the dioxin contamination of animals in Northern Ireland, a report found

Health Minister Michael McGimpsey was not initially told about the dioxin contamination of animals in Northern Ireland, a report found

The official approach to the 2008 pork safety scare in Northern Ireland was disjointed and lacked leadership and control, a report claims.

Health Minister Michael McGimpsey was not initially told about the dioxin contamination of animals and Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew only heard about the alert on the news, an independent review added.

Pork products were withdrawn when toxic pollutants were discovered in slaughtered Irish pigs which had consumed dangerous feed.

The review was carried out by career civil servant Kenneth MacKenzie.

His report declared: "I have been critical of the ad hoc nature of the communications in the first few days, which I believe was a feature of the disjointed approach and the apparent lack of leadership and control. As time passed and the key players got around the table, relationships improved and structures and processes were established."

The 67-page report to the secretary to the Executive was published earlier this year. Another official report into the pork and beef threat found that there was no delay in the Republic of Ireland authorities' response.

More than 30,000 tonnes of pig meat were recalled while 175,000 pigs and cows were slaughtered following the December 2008 alarm. The contamination is believed to have occurred when contaminated fuel was used in an oil-fired burner that generated heat to dry feed at a plant in Co Carlow.

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Forty-eight farms were identified as having received similar feed from the company - 10 pig farms and 38 beef farms in the Republic.

The company's products were also delivered to seven farms in Northern Ireland. The scare caused significant economic difficulties for Irish farmers after several countries banned the import of their pork.

It took almost three days for Mr McGimpsey to be alerted after the threat to Northern Ireland was discovered.


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