In another great example how interconnected a “farm to fork” food chain can be, a friend of mine sent me this article from AP Ireland, “Oil-tainted feed causes Irish pork crisis.”

The beginning of this food crisis (as opposed to all the others that we read about daily) according to Irish Agriculture Department is that a feed supplier, Millstream, was using an inappropriate type of fuel oil in a burner that dried out-of-date bread, dough and confectionery that was turned into pig feed. Apparently, the vapors from the burning oil worked their way into the food, creating dioxin levels 80 to 200 times above legal limits. To the governments credit all little piggies are now off the market.  However, the financial impacts will be felt throughout the chain and into the Irish public’s wallet.

– Pig meat processors will cull 100,000 pigs suspected of dioxin poisoning and they are demanding euro1 billion ($1.25 billion) in emergency aid.

– Ireland’s biggest pig meat processor, Rosderra Irish Meats Group Ltd., turned away its 850 employees at four plants Monday and told them to sign up for state unemployment benefits. Irish labor union SIPTU said 6,000 pork-industry workers may be impacted.

– The government now faces an uphill struggle to restore international confidence in an industry worth more than euro450 million ($570 million) annually, chiefly in exports to Europe and Asia.

– Russia, China, Japan, South Korea and Singapore all announced import bans Monday on Irish pork.

All from not paying attention to your inputs. Hmm, sounds much like the melamine crisis in China, and scores of other food supply failures that seem to hit us on a weekly if not daily basis.  In the United States we see similar failures when sellers of products, from hamburger to lettuce, seem oblivious to what, if any, safety measures growers/shippers/suppliers (how many ever actually visit the supply chain?) have put into place to prevent bacterial or viral contamination.  And, then all are surprised when people become ill and another recall is announced.

A few moments ago, this landed in my inbox:  Irish tests find dioxins in cattle as well as pork

However, no recall on beef – yet?

  • anon

    Someone I know very well told me a story about how their boss ordered the wrong kind of chemical for machinery. There’s 2 kinds of this chemical, only one of them food grade.
    When the person I know pointed out that the chemical was the wrong kind, the boss hem-hawed around and was evasive. The person I know then hung around to secretly watch to see what the boss was going to do with the non-food grade chemical.
    I can’t remember if that boss was going to pour it into a machine, or into an older container for the proper chemical, but the person I know stepped out and confronted boss.
    After a heated argument, and a threat to reveal boss’s intentions, boss ended up ordering proper chemical.
    The person I know never figured out if boss was trying to cover his mistake, or save money by using what was on hand (that he’d ordered), or both.
    It’s scary knowing that all it takes is the action of a single person to cause wide-spread food contamination, especially after reading so many stories lately.

  • Bix

    I have nothing to add, except I read this (thank you for writing it) and I’m in awe of the scale of these things.