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Irish pork sales get all-clear

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  • Ireland puts in place measures to resume sale of pork products
  • Pork products were recalled after dioxins found in animal feed and pork fat samples
  • Dioxins are environmental contaminants, often present in industrial waste
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(CNN) -- The Republic of Ireland will resume sales of pork and bacon following a food safety scare that prompted the recall of all Irish pork, the country's Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith announced Wednesday.

Slaughterhouses that can demonstrate their meat did not come from herds placed under restrictions will be allowed to sell pork. The meat will carry a label indicating the government considers it safe to eat.

The Department of Agriculture said it did not know exactly when Irish pork would be back on the market.

"The decisive and rapid action to remove all pork and bacon products from shelves last weekend allows us to restore supplies in which the consumer can have full confidence," Smith said.

The UK's Press Association reported officials at the European Food Safety Authority gave Irish pork the all-clear and confirmed eating pig meat over the last three months posed no serious health risk.

Irish pig farmers demonstrated in front of the agriculture department Wednesday "to demand an immediate re-opening of the country's processing plants."

The farmers said they were losing sales of one million euros ($1.3 million) a day due to the ban.

Ireland pulled all its pork products off shelves worldwide following the discovery of unacceptably high levels of dioxins in meat.

The government believes tainted feed from one company is the source of the contamination, and later placed restrictions on 45 beef farms that received feed from the same company.

Ten pig farms were found to have used pig feed sold to them by a company called Millstream Power Recycling Limited in County Carlow in the south of the country, Agriculture Department spokeswoman Martina Carney said.

The company recycles other foodstuffs to make meal which is then fed to animals. The company declined to speak to CNN.

The Irish Department of Agriculture was working with a meat-marketing organization called Bord Bia to ensure that sales of Irish pork could resume.

Dioxins are formed by burning chlorine-based chemical compounds, a group that includes PCBs. Most dioxin exposure occurs through diet, with more than 95 percent coming from the consumption of animal fats, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Dioxin levels in food are regulated.

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