Netherlands sees no health risk from dioxin outbreak

by 5m Editor
10 November 2004, at 12:00am

THE NETHERLANDS - The Netherlands sees no risk to public health from contamination of animal feed with cancer-causing dioxin that has forced the closure of nearly 200 Dutch livestock farms, health authorities said on Wednesday.

The dioxin contamination scare has spread to Belgium, Germany, France and Spain over the past week but the European Commission, the EU's executive, has also ruled out serious health risks.

"There is no risk to public health...The first results have shown that dioxin levels in meat are well below the (EU approved) threshold," said Bas Kuik, spokesman for the Dutch health ministry.

"Research and tests are still running but we think there is no reason to believe that any risk exists," he added.

The Dutch Agriculture Ministry has said that German-made clay used for sorting potatoes was the reason for the dioxin contamination of animal feed, made of potato peels.

The contaminated clay was bought by 10 Dutch potato companies, including the Dutch unit of privately-held Canadian potato manufacturer McCain, and was also shipped to companies in France and Belgium, the ministry has said.

It has said that two cows from one of the contaminated Dutch farms were exported to Spain.

Dutch authorities have found that contaminated potato feed had been exported to Belgium and Germany, leading to the temporary closure of eight livestock farms in Belgium and four in Germany over the past week.

A total of 197 Dutch pig, cattle, sheep and goat farms have been sealed off and authorities in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium are still examining the feed and animals and any impact on the food chain.

First Dutch pork tests proved negative earlier this week and the farm ministry said more results are expected this week.

"The involved meat is mainly pork. Farms will remain shut until all tests are completed," a ministry spokeswoman said.

Earlier Dutch results have shown contaminated milk at only two of the farms.

Dioxins are one of a number of toxic chemicals that originate in pesticides or industrial processes, seep into rivers and lakes and build up in the flesh of fish and animals.

Source: Reuters - 10th November 2004

5m Editor