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 Feed.
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 chain.
"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
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 Commission said.
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 Rights Reserved.