Frozen pork dumped in Little River by a commercial truck crash was destined for non-human use but would not pose a health risk, the Ministry of Environment reported on Friday.
Area residents were salvaging some of the packaged product on Wednesday and stocking their deep freezes.
Despite cleanup and salvage efforts, debris from the refrigeration truck crash still dotted the shores of the river on Thursday, causing concern among area residents.
The Vancouver-bound truck left the road either late Monday or early Tuesday, about 14 kilometres east of Chase, killing the Calgary-based driver. Truck and trailer, along with the man's body, were pulled from the river Tuesday.
"Out here, we're just wondering," said Rick Koch, a Chase resident who noticed the remaining debris on Thursday morning. "Whatever is left there is defrosting and birds are pulling it out and picking at it."
Chief Felix Arnouse of Little Shuswap Indian Band said he, too, was concerned about the leftover debris. Plastic packaging and cardboard also lined the river shore.
The Ministry of Environment said its environmental emergency response officers continue to monitor the situation, but there is no risk to human health, either from a minor diesel spill or the debris.
The meat, though destined for non-human use, had been processed through the food inspection and slaughter process and would not pose any risk, the ministry said. It said that any pork remaining in the water is deemed a low risk because it is protein that will break down.
Boxes were labelled HiLife, the name of a popular UK pet food brand. An employee with Syndicate Transport, the Calgary trucking firm that owned the truck, said staff had been instructed not to comment on the matter.
The ministry also said that the towing operator still has a crew on site and along the shoreline, removing any debris they encounter. An employee with Ben's Towing in Salmon Arm confirmed that half a dozen workers would finish the job today.
Interior Health has advised all communities with water systems, including the City of Kamloops, Village of Chase and the TNRD, that the water body may have been affected.
Dave Teasdale, utility service supervisor with the City, said the meat poses no threat to membrane-treated water. The membrane removes any particle larger than .04 microns, whereas bacteria are much larger, ranging from 0.2 to two microns, he said.
"If there were a significant amount of diesel, it would be a concern," Teasdale said. However, fuel floats and most water intakes are on the river bottom, he noted.
"The Ministry of Environment is keeping us in the loop," he said.
If there were a significant fuel spill, the water treatment centre would be shut down. With the low water demand at this time of year and storage capacity, the City could continue to pump treated water for 10 to 12 hours without the plant operating.
Joe Jules was among those who were salvaging the pork on Wednesday. He consumed some of it and found it to be perfectly all right.
"It doesn't cause me any concern," he said on Thursday, comparing it to the wild game he normally consumes. "Excellent roasts and excellent steaks."