31 January 2006
BRUSSELS — Despite the widening dioxin worries in the Belgian livestock fodder industry, no contaminated meat of poultry will be removed from supermarket shelves.
“There is no acute danger for public health. What is now in shops may be sold,” Pascal Houbaert, a spokesman for the Federal Food Agency, said.
The agency decided against recalling food products on advice from a committee of experts. “The contamination is too limited. There is no immediate danger for the consumer,” the committee said.
However, measures will be imposed against farms and abattoirs. A blockade has been imposed on some 400 companies and farms until further details emerge over the presence of contaminated fodder.
The firms will temporarily be banned from sending products into the food chain. Further analyses will determine whether the restrictions can be lifted.
As the scope of the dioxin problems widened on Monday, the source of the infected pig fodder was also discovered. Due to a defect filter at the company Tessenderlo Chemie, unpurified hydrochloric acid was mixed with pig fat.
Two filters at Tessenderlo Chemie — which operates subsidiary PB Gelatins — were not operating properly from 6-28 October. The company then supplied unpurified hydrochloric acid, which PB Gelatins used and passed onto farmers.
The so-called profile of the dioxins found in the hydrochloric acid by Tessenderlo Chemie was the same as the profile found in the pig fat.
The contaminated hydrochloric acid — which is used to extract fat from pig bones — was therefore definitely the original source of contamination.
An analysis of gelatine from PB Gelatins revealed traces of dioxins in one of the four samples taken. The amount was 2.8 pg TEQ/g product. Normal consumption of the gelatine would constitute less than 25 percent of the acceptable daily intake of dioxins.
“There is thus no immediate danger for public health,” the food agency stressed.
However, the agency placed more than 300 pig and poultry farms under supervision on Monday. These farms received fodder from the firms Leroy and Algoet, which in turn received contaminated fat from PB Gelatins.
The blockaded farms will not be able to provide any products into the food chain until further notice and the agency has not ruled out the possibility that more farms might be shut down.
Similar restrictions were imposed on almost 100 companies last week when news of the dioxin contamination broke. The original source was traced back to the firm Profat, which had been supplied by PB Gelatins.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Belgian news