Yesterday, European supermarkets were ordered to remove Irish-based bacon, ham and sausages after an announcement that Irish pork products had been potentially tainted with dioxin. The discovery of dioxins at 80 to 200 times the recognized safety limit had triggered this recall. While reportedly only 10 percent of Ireland’s pig meat was affected, it was apparently processed and mixed in with other meat, resulting in a supply chain compounded contamination.

Similar to previous food recalls in the U.S. and other global regions, Irish farmers and pork producers were extremely concerned with the impacts of this recall, especially in light of the upcoming holiday season in Europe, as well as ongoing consumer perceptions.  Exposure to dioxins at high levels can be linked to increased evidence of cancer, but is not an apparent immediate cause of human sickness.  None the less, previous headlines of tainted milk or drugs from China have sensitized many consumers.

As with other major recalls, producers and consumers will have to monitor the efforts of public-health and regulatory authorities as they continue in their efforts to purge Europe and other pork supply chains of the alleged contaminated pork and pork by-products.  If previous recalls of this type serve as an indicator, this purging could take weeks to complete.  Meanwhile, negative perceptions will have to be overcome.

Bob Ferrari