BRUSSELS, Belgium, November 5, 2004 (ENS):
Fear of dioxin contamination in European foods spread
today on reports that Dutch potato by-products tainted
with the cancer causing chemical had been sold to farmers
in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany.
More than 160 farms have been closed in the Netherlands
and Belgium after dioxin was found in dairy products.
All of those farms reportedly had received shipments
of animal feed which contained potato by-products from
Canadian frozen potato chip fries manufacturer McCain
that were contaminated with dioxin.
McCain, which has launched an investigation, sells
its potato peels for use in animal feed. The company
said its own frozen foods products are not tainted.
McCain's office in the Netherlands says its fries and
other potato products contain "none" of the
dioxin contaminated peels. Because the cattle fodder
material in its factories is "strictly separated"
from other product flows, it is impossible that potatoes
intended for human food have been contaminated.
After the discovery of dioxin contaminated potato by-products
in the Netherlands, the European Commission has been
co-ordinating the tracing of the chain of deliveries
through the European Rapid Alert System for Food and
As a result, all movement of animals from 162 farms
in the Netherlands, eight in Belgium and three in Germany,
which received the animal feed, has been blocked by
European authorities. The national authorities of the
member states concerned are currently tracing the food
"Consumer health and safety is not called into
question at present," the Commission said.
Health Commissioner David Byrne said today, “Member
state authorities and the Commission are cooperating
closely to ensure that safety of consumers is not jeopardized.
Together we will act swiftly yet responsibly. So far,
our system of traceability and alert notifications is
working well. It is vital that the confidence of the
consumer in our food chain is maintained.”
Tracing the products through the food chain has revealed
that the Dutch branch of McCain used so-called potato
separator clay from a German company to separate high
quality potatoes from lower quality ones. This clay
bath was found to be contaminated by dioxins and appears
to have in turn contaminated the potato peels, used
for animal feeding.
Movement of animals from the farms that have obtained
the animal feed have been temporarily blocked by national
authorities. Sampling and analysis of the potato by-products
delivered to the farms as well as of the farms’
products of animal origin is ongoing.
Results should disclose in the coming days whether
restrictions on some farms can be lifted.
Meat and dairy products from affected livestock would
be withdrawn from sale, officials said.
So far, analysis of the Dutch company’s potato
products intended for human consumption indicates that
they do not contain unacceptable levels of dioxin, the
The Commission has asked for the distribution list
of the German clay company to verify whether more food
operators purchased the clay to separate foods.
In addition, the Commission has requested all 25 European
member states to investigate whether separation processes
using clay are current practice within their territories.
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2004. All