State Bans Imports of Irish Pork

The government has announced a ban on the import of Irish pork and pork products over fears of dioxin contamination, the country's top public health official said on Monday .

"An order was issued for all Irish pork, including that which is being readied for sale as well as pork being readied for processing, to be halted," said Gennady Onishchenko, the head of the Federal Consumer Protection Service, or Rospotrebnadzor, Interfax reported.

Onishchenko said production has been halted until Ireland provides data specifying exactly which shipments could contain the tainted meat.

"It's still not known how many tons of this meat has reached Russia," Onishchenko said.

Ireland's Food Safety Authority said the dioxin made its way into the food chain after pig feed from one producer was tainted with some sort of industrial oil.

While only 10 percent of the country's pig meat was affected, that percentage was processed and mixed in with other meat, resulting in widespread contamination.

"We're actually reeling in shock at the moment at the scale of this disaster," Tim Cullinan, an official with the Irish Farmers Association and a pig farmer, told Irish state radio RTE.

Dr. Tony Holohan, the Irish Department of Health's chief medical officer, urged people not to purchase or consume pork products, but stressed that the move was precautionary.

(AP, MT)