On Sunday, December 7, the Irish government issued a statement asking the public to throw away all products containing pork when poisonous toxins where found in pigs in numerous Irish farms.
It was later revealed that the source of the problem was contaminated animal feed that was fed to the animals in a small number of farms. However, because the meat could not be traced to the source, the government urged that all pork-related food products be destroyed.
It is estimated that this will have a devastating effect on the industry which employs 6,000 people throughout Ireland. The Irish Food Board estimated on their website that exports of Irish pork are worth 368 million Euro annually to the Irish economy.
One day following the announcement to recall the potentially poisonous products, 850 layoffs were announced at Ireland’s Rosderra Meats.
Regarding the layoffs, local Dail TD (member of Irish parliament) Olwyn Enright said in a statement, “The crisis in the pig industry is already hitting ordinary families hard and, with Christmas only a fortnight away, today’s move by Rosderra Meats will be devastating.”
“The company is one of the biggest employers in the area and the job cuts in Edenderry in particular will deal a savage blow. These layoffs will not only affect the workers directly, but also a further 6,000 jobs throughout the Midlands that are linked with the factory. It is no exaggeration to say that these jobs are vital to the area. Such massive cuts will cripple the region.”
Sean Sherlock, labor spokesperson on agriculture, urged the Irish government to quickly allow the industry to go back into production or it will face a crisis.
Mr. Sherlock said in a statement, “This is an industry now facing meltdown.”
“Producers are already facing heavy costs through the withdrawal and destruction of products. If they are not allowed back into production soon, they will have no income, workers will be laid off and producers will go out of business,” said Mr. Sherlock.
“With international markets likely to remain closed for the immediate future, the domestic market will be vital to the industry’s survival.”
Animal rights group, Compassion in World Farming, has urged that the tainted pigs are destroyed in a kind way. Director of the group, Mary-Anne Bartlett said, “Compassion in World Farming is concerned that financial pressures may put pig welfare at risk, and we are calling on Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith to ensure that this does not happen.”
The timeline of events that led to the call for pig meat in Ireland to be destroyed has been published on the Irish government’s website.