Dutch test pig feed for dioxin, farms still shut

THE NETHERLANDS - Dutch food and safety authority (VWA) said most pig farms sealed off as a precaution after discovering cancer-causing dioxin would remain shut because results of tests on animal feed would take time.
calendar icon 6 February 2006
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"Test feed results will show what the exact percentage of dioxin is and/or if it is within or above normal limits," VWA said on its website. It did not say when it expected the results to come in. On the basis of first results of meat tested, it had not been possible to reopen the farms, the VWA said late on Friday.

However, one pig farm that received feed directly from a Belgian feed producer was allowed to reopen. The authorities have also been testing eggs for dioxin contamination. Test results of 41 chicken farms were favourable, but eight would have to stay shut as the farms were keeping pigs as well, the VWA said.

On Thursday the VWA had reopened nine pig farms out of 250 it had sealed off after tests had shown they were clean of dioxin or had levels below the norm. Some 650 farms, including a handful raising chickens, have been quarantined in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany since last week when the news first broke of dioxin contamination in animal feed. Produce from the affected farms cannot be sold or transported while the order remains in effect.

Authorities in the three countries keep testing levels of the carcinogen dioxin in meat and feed. Dutch and Belgian food officials have said that meat from contaminated farms was sold in shops in the last two months but they ruled out any serious risk to public health, although conclusive meat tests results are not yet available.

They said a person would have to eat dioxin contaminated meat several times a day for a long period to feel any impact, which they said was not the case in the two countries. The dioxin, a class of chemicals widely used in industrial processes, got into Belgian pork fat ingredients used to make animal feed in October, authorities have said.

It was the latest contamination problem to hit Europe after a similar case in 2004, when dioxin was found in Dutch potato feed. The dioxin found in Belgian feed came from a subsidiary of Belgian chemical maker Tessenderlo . The company's shares slipped more than three percent after the news but it has said it was too early to discuss compensation. Dioxins are one of a number of toxic chemicals that originate in pesticides or industrial processes. They get into rivers and lakes and build up in the flesh of fish and animals.

Source: Reuters - 6thFebruary 2006

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