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Nick Brown, agriculture minister, has taken firm action to ensure that the public is protected from potentially haz...
Nick Brown, agriculture minister, has taken firm action to ensure that the public is protected from potentially hazardous Belgian food or food products.

The minister signed an emergency order under the Food Safety Act which brings into effect in the UK:

- a European Commission Decision on poultry and eggs contaminated with dioxin

- the commission's announcement on measures EU member states should take to ensure protection from dioxin-contaminated pigmeat, beef and dairy products, as well as live animals

The commission's order requires Belgium to ensure that no further products from the affected farms are distributed.

Consumers are advised that consumption of the contaminated animal products would not be expected to cause harmful effects. This is due to the relatively short period of exposure. Adverse effects in humans usually occur only after prolonged exposure to high levels of dioxins. Until further information is received, consumers who wish

to take precautions are advised not to eat any pork, beef or poultry, or products derived from them (including dairy products) produced in Belgium.

Separate regulations under the European Community Act prohibiting imports of contaminated animal feeding stuffs are also being signed.


1. The Food (Animals and Animals Products from Belgium)(Emergency Control) Order 1999 and The Animals Feedingstuffs from Belgium (Control) Regulations 1999 No 1543 are emergency Orders made under Section 13 of the Food Safety Act 1990, giving legal powers in Great Britain to enforce Commission Decision 1999/363/EC on protective measures with regards to contamination by dioxins of certain animal products intended for human or animal consumption.

2. High levels of dioxins have been found in poultry and eggs from 416 farms in Belgium. Reported levels are more than 100 times higher than those found in previous surveys of the UK diet. The cause of the contamination is thought to be contaminated

feeding stuffs.

3. Reports now indicate that contaminated feed may also have been fed to pigs on some 500 farms as well as to other livestock including cattle.

4. The MAFF/Department of Health Joint Food Standards and Safety Group (JFSSG) is advising food businesses to:

investigate whether any beef and dairy products, pork and pork products, poultry, eggs and other related products they use in food manufacture, or may currently have on sale, originated from Belgium and either obtain confirmation from their suppliers that the products did not originate from any of the affected farms in Belgium which

have been put under restriction by the Belgian authorities or be able to demonstrate through the results of analysis that the products are not contaminated with dioxins or related substances such as PCBs.

5. Dioxins and furans are a group of closely related chemicals produced during most combustion processes and as unwanted by-products of some industrial chemical processes. Dioxins and furans are analysed together in food samples, and are generally referred to generically as dioxins.

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