This is a theme on which I have written before. Industrial scale animal feed manufacture, factory farming methods and human food manufacture, processing and distribution will result in calamities on a massive scale. Trade and transport shift foodstuffs thousands of miles almost instantly.

It has happened again, this time to the Irish pig industry.

"European supermarkets have been ordered to clear their shelves of Irish bacon, ham and sausages.

It happened after authorities discovered that Irish pork products had been tainted with a potentially cancer-causing chemical."

"Ireland's Food Safety Authority said the dioxin made its way into the food chain after pig feed from a producer was tainted with industrial oil.

While only 10 per cent of the country's pig meat was affected, that was processed and mixed in with other meat, resulting in widespread contamination."

"Health officials across the continent are warning their consumers not to eat Irish pork after the discovery that dioxins had been in some of the pigs' feed for months."

"The Food Safety Authority and the Department of Agriculture and Food during routine surveillance identified a pig with residue of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in excess of the permissible levels. The sample was taken on November 19th and the result was reported on November 28th. This triggered an investigation on the farm at which the pig had originated. Initially, it was thought something untoward must have occurred on this farm."

It would appear that testing methodology has allowed this to go unnoticed for more than two months and that action has taken more than a week, which means that many who consume pig products will already have taken on board some of the toxin. The 'recall' cannot recall what has already been eaten and readers may be surprised to know just how widely pig products are used in the food processing industry. Recalling bacon, ham and sausages may well be insufficient to prevent human contamination. Many manufactured food products may be tainted and may not be recalled.

"Irish pig meat and pig fat is exported to the EU and farther afield. One food processor in Belgium, which provides pig fat to the manufacturing industry, noticed an increase in PCBs in composite samples containing pig fat from several member states since September, and was trying to identify from which country the contaminated fat was coming."

With modern transport and industrial methods, the pigs' food chain can become rapidly and widely infiltrated by contamination and, likewise, so can ours. Furthermore, this case illustrates how slowly the problem can be identified and tracked. Local food, small scale and organic farming point the way to go. The supermarket culture is as dangerous as it is seductive.

[Why not take a look at , while you're here?]