Dioxin contaminated food enters the UK

Foodstuffs from German pig and poultry feed contaminated with dioxins four times above EU legal limits have entered the UK.

The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) has issued a statement saying that the contaminated food has entered the UK via the Netherlands as pasteurised liquid egg.

The FSA is currently liaising with the industry and says it will provide further updates as information becomes available but has declared that there is only a very low risk to human health.

The statement said: “They (dioxins and PCBs) have no immediate effect on our health but can cause problems if they are absorbed into our bodies at high levels for long periods.”

Dioxins are chemicals formed by industrial processes and waste burning. They have been shown to contribute to higher cancer rates and affect pregnant women.

It is likely that the contamination occurred in Germany when oils intended for bio-fuel became mixed with oil destined for animal feed.

The dioxin was discovered last month and reported to the EU but the extent of the problem was only realised this week when German officials said 3,000 tonnes of feed were affected.

German authorities have closed more than 4,000 farms and have culled 8,000 laying hens in North Rhine Westphalia.

Eggs from laying hen farms that were supplied with contaminated feed have been recalled. No other products have been recalled so far.

A total of 136,000 of potentially contaminated eggs were delivered to the Netherlands to produce egg products. The egg products were then exported to the UK.

The European Commission is monitoring the situation with the German authorities and has timetabled an update of the incident for the forthcoming meetings of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health on January 11-12.

Alison Brown

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