DECEMBER 19, 2008: THE Food Standards Agency has moved to reassure consumers about eatingIrish beef after cattle potentially exposed to dioxins were withdrawnfrom the Irish food chain.

On Thursday, Ireland announced that beef from cattle that had eaten feed contaminated with dioxins was being withdrawn.Animals from affected herds and associated carcases had been held on the relevant farms and at meat processing plants since early last week pending results from dioxin tests.The results from these tests showed that dioxins exceeded permitted levels. Therefore, while stressing that the risk to human health was ‘likely to be very low’, the authorities withdrew the meat from the market.The FSA stressed that the number of affected animals represented less than 1 per cent of Ireland’s national herd and the majority of the meat from them had been held.However, it acknowledged a ‘small amount of affected meat may have entered the UK food chain’.“This meat is likely to have reached consumers but the risk to human health from consuming this is very low,” the FSA said.The agency added it was continuing to investigate the issue of contaminated feed in the UK and the focus was now on a ‘small number of cattle herds in Northern Ireland’.“All such cattle herds and associated carcases remain on hold and will not be permitted to enter the food chain unless full dioxin test results show that dioxin levels are within legal limits,” it said.“Results from dioxin tests are expected early next week. In the interim, restrictions will remain in place until the FSA is fully satisfied that meat from these animals can be placed on the market.”.

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