Another problem in the meat distribution network?

Hmmm… Not what we needed

A Northern Irish company has been identified as the source of halal food found to contain traces of pork DNA. McColgan Quality Foods Limited in Strabane, Co Tyrone, insisted swift action has been taken to identify and isolate the products which are supplied to the UK Prison Service.

In a statement, a spokesman said the company was co-operating with the UK’s Food Standards Agency following the discovery of trace elements of porcine DNA in a number of halal-certified pastry products.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

  • The Raven

    I think it’s good that Mick has included the requisite quote which points out that there’s no question of introducing/substituting other meats. This to me is no different from the little warnings which say “may contain traces of nuts” or “made in a factory where nut ingredients are present.” A little more serious, obviously, if you are Muslim.

    However, it raises yet again the fallibility of our food chain, and the questionability of food production, not just here, but everywhere across the Western world.

    The scariest sentence came in some of the press pieces on the radio this morning – “this story shows the length and complexity of how our food is made”. Another salutory tale of just why you should think twice about where, how and why you buy the food you do – regardless of your community background.

    Tesco. Meatballs. DNA of 176 animals. 25% fat. “Connective tissue”. Enuff said.

  • carl marks

    On the BBC website there is a statement from a senior Muslim, saying more or less that the discovery of pork DNA could have serious consequences,
    Is the Muslin world not a major importer if Irish meat, jobs could be under threat here so the governments have a obligation to investigate this whole mess in a open manner.
    We as a island heavily dependent on agriculture exports can’t afford to try and dither or way through this.
    I am in total agreement with you the whole food industry is in a mess.

  • tacapall

    “this story shows the length and complexity of how our food is made”. Another salutory tale of just why you should think twice about where, how and why you buy the food you do – regardless of your community background.”

    Indeed Raven.

  • Alias

    If the state was going to introduce a new test that would pick up all this DNA, or was going to start testing and publishing the data, why didn’t it forewarn the meat processing industry about it, giving it time to get its house in order so as to avoid the damage to the national interest that would result from this data being made available to the public?

  • The Raven

    Alias – might I suggest that the trade values profit, not quality? And if it were otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to write the above re the meatballs. Can I also suggest that the mass-production part of the food industry is maybe ‘too far gone’ to ever get its house in order?

    For what is ‘having your house in order’?

    Knowing what exactly goes into the food? Where it comes from? What it is packed in? How it was procured?

    How it was grown or reared? What exactly was sprayed on it or injected into it, during the growing and afterwards, when it is being vaulted into the realms of ‘value-added’ food?

    And giving that information to the public in its entirety, in a manner which it understands? Maybe not on a label, but in full, on a website?

    Carl – apologies – I did not mean to demean the importance of this issue, especially to the Muslim community, but sorry if what I wrote gave that impression.

  • Barnshee

    F*** as if we don`t have enough trouble

  • innis

    the Natural Society website makes some interersting claims

    “autolyzed yeast extract is particulary dangerous”

    While my dietary preferences don’t jibe with my better half sometimes, I didn’t realise that her love of Marmite was particluarly dangerous.

    Must also avoid such other foods as Oxo and Vegemite.

    Don’t know about the rest of the claims, but one item that has the bullshit detector running at 100% tends to invalidate most websites.

  • BarneyT

    I wonder where this rates on the scale of perceived “offences” committed (intentionally or not) against the Islam1st community. Is it more or less serious than a Danish cartoon?

  • carl marks

    I don’t think the Muslim community are taking offence, but since their religion prohibits the eating of pork they may stop taking our meat, which will be a major blow to our meat industry.
    Now look at the uproar that took place here when the horse burger thing broke,
    I don’t think there is a Jihad coming over this but there could be job losses.

  • sherdy

    I have no idea how the contamination entered the McColgan’s food chain.
    But there is so much pressure on prices by the supermarket buyers, and it seems institution buyers, that while regrettable, it should be no surprise that some producers may have been cutting safety corners in their pruchasing.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Er, doesn’t the Koran say words to the effect of “Allah will forgive you if you accidentally eat pork without intending it” or something ?

  • damon

    In England the halal meat trade has cornered the market in certain areas. It’s not like that in Ireland yet I presume. Although they must be killing in the halal way over there for export. Is this done by muslim slaughtermen?

    Non muslims eat halal meat all the time, usually without knowing, so is is such a big deal if it happens inadvertently the other way?

  • Harry Flashman

    “Er, doesn’t the Koran say words to the effect of “Allah will forgive you if you accidentally eat pork without intending it” or something ?”

    Hardly the point though is it CS? This company was hired to provide a specific product and presumably paid a premium for doing so. Its job was to sell halal meat, I’ve worked in the meat industry, it’s not rocket science keeping two types of meat apart if that is what you are charging your customers extra to do.

    They knew their job was to produce halal meat if they are incapable of providing the very least of this service, ie keeping pork out of the process then they shouldn’t be in business.

    It’s not simply a question of religion, many Muslim and Jewish, indeed many non-religious, cultures have an abhorrence of pork in precisely the same way we do about horse or other products.

    Some cultures have no difficulty eating rats or cockroaches but I don’t want either of those products in my food. I don’t care if the rat is bred in a special farm and raised on a diet of fillet steak and cream cheese I don’t want to eat rat, end of story.

    It’s the same with pig for many people.

    Once again the knob-ends who run the one industry and which Ireland could beat the world screw up. It seems that the meat industry just can’t help itself.