The importation of pork products from Belgium at present has been described as “completely irresponsible” by the chair of the Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA’s) Pigs Committee, Thomas Hogan.

He made the comment given the recent outbreak of African swine fever in the country.

Carroll’s of Tullamore recently came in for some criticism on social media when an image of one of its products showed that it originated in Belgium.

In a statement released to AgriLand, the company said: “This continental-type product is produced using a different cure than we use in Ireland.

“We believe in offering our consumers a choice. Our customers have been purchasing this unique product for many years.

Carroll’s continues to support Irish pork and is one of the largest purchasers of Irish pig meat.

However, the IFA’s Thomas Hogan stated that Irish pig producers “would take grave exception” to any secondary processor importing pork products from Belgium at present – given the recent outbreak of African swine fever.

“It is completely irresponsible to threaten the whole pig industry here in Ireland by importing pork from a country where African swine fever has been detected.

“We would also be calling on retailers who have pork products on their shelves which originated in Belgium to take them down,” Hogan added.

The recent detection of African swine fever in Belgium has been noted with concern by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed.

“The identification of African swine fever now in Belgium – close to the French border, as well as its continued spread in eastern Europe – is an increasing cause of concern,” Minister Creed said.

African swine fever is a highly contagious and usually fatal viral disease of pigs. It does not affect humans and meat from pigs does not pose any food safety risk, according to the department.