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Food contamination scare spread from Irish pork to beef
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11:19, December 10, 2008

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A contaminated meat scare has spread from Irish pork to beef after tests found illegally high levels of chemicals in cattle, Sky news reported on Tuesday.

Three beef farms have been linked to the contamination, with PCBs -- or Polychlorinated Biphenyls -- being found in 11 herds tested, Ireland's Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith has confirmed.

However, Smith said the public should not be worried as the levels of PCBs found in the beef were two to three times above safe limits, compared to 200 times for pork.

Officials said the contaminated animals which ate oil-tainted food are being taken out of the food chain.

Results are still pending for 34 more farms that received the contaminated feed.

The beef industry is Ireland's largest and most important farming sector and is worth 2.1 billion pounds (about 3 billion U.S. dollars) a year.

Since the cancer-causing dioxins were first found in Irish pork, products have been recalled from 21 countries.

Less than three days into the crisis, more than 1,700 pig factory workers had lost their jobs after a total of 56 farms in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland have been linked with the contamination.

But there are currently no plans to take beef products off the shelves, the officials said.

The meat became contaminated after unlicensed oil used in a burner tainted breadcrumbs which were supplied to 56 farms in the Republic of Ireland and nine farms in Northern Ireland.

Source: Xinhua

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