Sheep carcasses ‘deemed unfit for the food chain’

A number of sheep carcasses have been “deemed unfit for the food chain” following the detection of what is believed to be sarcocystosis.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine confirmed that the sheep originated from a farm in Co. Donegal.

In a statement, the department outlined that it “operates a comprehensive system of ante and post-mortem veterinary inspection on all animals slaughtered in Irish meat plants”.

Only meat from those animals that pass both inspections are eligible for the food chain. Where animals fail to meet the required standards, they are excluded from the food chain.

“In recent weeks, during the course of routine post-mortem inspections, sheep from a farm in Co. Donegal were deemed to be unfit for the food chain and disposed of appropriately.

“Preliminary investigations indicate sarcocystosis in the sheep.

“This epidemiological investigation into this matter is ongoing, but the department is satisfied that the necessary controls have been effectively implemented to safeguard public health for the benefit of consumers and wider society,” the statement added.

Meanwhile, in the weeks leading up to the middle of June last year, it was confirmed that over 400 lamb carcasses had to be destroyed due to an outbreak of sarcocystosis.

Also Read: Over 400 lamb carcasses destroyed due to disease outbreak

It was understood that veterinary personnel working for the department condemned the carcasses at a number of sheep slaughter plants, over the space of a few weeks, as being unfit for human consumption.

It was alleged that this outbreak also originated on a farm in Co. Donegal.

The disease can generally only be definitively diagnosed following a post-mortem. Sarcocystosis causes cysts to form on the host’s muscles.

Humans, horses, cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, birds, rodents, and reptiles can all contract the disease. The cysts vary in size from a few micrometers to a few centimeters, depending on the host and species.

The disease is believed to develop in the host for between one and two weeks after it ingests muscle tissue that contains sarcocystis cysts, the final host will then begin to shed the infective parasites in its faeces; shedding continues for several months.