4 June 1999

Belgian poultry scare action

TIGHT controls were introduced this week to contain the latest food scare involving Belgian poultry contaminated with dioxin – a renowned carcinogen.

Following a meeting of the EU standing veterinary committee on Wednesday, the commission ruled that all meat, eggs and egg products from the affected farms – said to number 366 out of about 5000 in Belgium – must be traced and destroyed.

But it stopped short of imposing an outright ban on all Belgian poultry exports, saying it was satisfied the authorities had done enough to isolate the problem.

The commission ruling covers eggs and poultry produced between Jan 15 and June 1.

The source of the contamination is said to be animal feed from nine Belgian compounders which contained mineral as well as vegetable oil. Member states which imported any of this feed, (France, Netherlands and Germany), must also trace and destroy any related poultry products.

MAFF confirmed on Wednesday that no contaminated feedstuffs had been shipped to the UK, but some meat and eggs would have been imported. Suppliers would have to check their sources, though volumes were thought to be small.