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December 17, 2008

South Africa suspends meat imports from EU

South Africa’s Department of Agriculture announced it was suspending imports of all meat and dairy products from the European Union due to the discovery of dioxin in Irish meat products.

"Due to concerns regarding ’soft borders’ within the EU and the wide distribution of animal feed between EU member states, a decision has been taken to suspend all imports of meat and dairy products and other edible animal products (including pet food) from the EU to South Africa," the department said in a statement.

Dioxins have been found in Irish pig meat and animal feed produced in Ireland. The European Union’s food safety authority said that the dioxin contamination in Irish pork probably posed no health risk to humans who ate the product.

The South African statement said all Irish pork and bacon from pigs slaughtered after September 1 would be recalled. "This cut-off date will also apply to meat and dairy products exported from other EU member states to South Africa," the statement added. Shipments en route or currently at inspection sites would be dealt with individually, it said.

"Meat and dairy products that have been put on the water after 12th December 2008 will be rejected and returned to the country of origin, irrespective of the slaughter or production dates," the department warned. South Africa would reevaluate the ban "once the source and the extent of the dioxin contamination are known."

The Times

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