Food Law News - EU - 1999
9 June 1999: CONTAMINANTS - Contamination of feedingstuffs for poultry, pigs and cattle with Dioxin in Belgium
Commission Press Release (MEMO/99/32), 9 June 1999
Contamination of feedingstuffs for poultry, pigs and cattle with Dioxin in Belgium
SUMMARY OF ACTIONS TAKEN
a. Legislative actions
- On 31 May 1999, a first discussion with the Member States took place in the Standing Committee of Animal Nutrition. On this occasion, a representative of the Belgian 'Ministere des Classes Moyennes et de l'Agriculture' presented a report on the contamination of animal feed with dioxins including information about the chronology of the events and the action taken by the Belgian authorities to that date;
- At the meeting of 1-2 June 1999, the Standing Veterinary Committee approved a Commission Decision by qualified majority (2 Member States abstained) establishing emergency protection measures on live poultry, hatching eggs and products derived therefrom of Belgian origin. The Decision was adopted by the Commission on 3 June 1999 (Decision 1999/363/EC);
- On 4 June 1999, following new information from the Belgian authorities on distribution of suspected contaminated feedingstuffs with dioxins to other animal species, the Commission adopted Decision 1999/368/EC establishing similar emergency protection measures to those laid down in Decision 1999/363/EC to bovine animals and pigs and products derived therefrom of Belgian origin.
- According to the provisions laid down by Directive 90/425/EC and Directive 89/662/EEC, the above Decision was submitted to the Standing Veterinary Committee, which was convened on 7 June 1999 for an extraordinary meeting. During this meeting, the SVC approved the decision by qualified majority (1 Member State voted against, 1 Member State abstained);
b. Information to Third countries
- A meeting was called and held on 4 June 1999 to inform third countries about the action taken by the Commission to that date and of the recent developments concerning investigations on the contamination with dioxins. All the Missions accredited to the EU were invited and the meeting was attended by representatives of 58 third countries; The Commission explained the measures taken and provide for additional information about the investigation carried out by the Belgian authorities, and the action taken by Member States directly concerned, namely Belgium, The Netherlands and France. The Commission informed the Third Countries that the measures taken should prevent any form of dumping of potentially contaminated products. The Commission and the Member States' national authorities are currently carrying out controls and on-the-spot checks. The Commission and the Member States' services are continuously monitoring the situation.
- An urgent information notice to the WTO (SPS Committee) is in preparation;
- A second information meeting to Third Countries took place on 8 June 99;
c. Level of dioxins and methods of detection
- In absence of international or community or national limits for dioxins except for milk, the data on background levels should be used as reference by the Member States' authorities in order to evaluate the level of contamination of commodities and food products with dioxins. On 7 June 1999, the Commission confirmed by a letter the request to all Member States to provide as soon as possible those data on background levels. As requested by member States during the SVC of 1-2 June 1999, the Commission will collect these data and will circulate them to all Member States;
- It was agreed to submit an urgent request for a scientific opinion on the following issues related to dioxins:
- Guidelines for establishing Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI) levels in human population and level of contamination of commodities and food products.
- Methods of Detection (i.e. detection of PCB). This question needs to be clarified urgently. To this end an ad hoc group of Commission experts was set up.
On 8 June, the Belgium authorities have provided a first list of restricted poultry farms (445) and a provisional list of pork (746) and bovine (393) holdings currently under restriction. These lists cover farms, which received possibly contaminated feed in the period from January 15 to January 31.
The Belgian authorities are in the process of completing the lists in order to cover also the period commencing 1 February to 1 June 99. In doing so an additional number of 366 poultry farms was identified. The figures for pig and bovine holdings identified during this period are expected to be available in due course.
In the Netherlands 76 poultry and 350 pig farms are under restriction. For the moment no list of holdings has been provided to the Commission. Testing for Dioxin in fat, feedingstuffs, poultry meat, eggs and pork have been undertaken. All samples proved negative for Dioxin.
Therefore the Dutch authorities are considering lifting the restrictions, which have been put in place. The Dutch authorities were requested by the Commission to wait with any decision until the next meeting of the Standing Veterinary Committee being held on 10 June 99.
On farm level 81 poultry, 62 bovine, 4 ovine holdings have been put under restriction. Due to information received recently from the Belgium authorities 34 pig farms will also be restricted in France. Samples have been taken from different products, the results of which are expected to be delivered soon. Poultry and poultry products have been traced and removed from the shelves. The same is being done for dairy products and will be done for pork products.
Feedingstuffs were received by two poultry farms, which have been put under restriction immediately. All the animals were slaughtered in Belgium and The Netherlands.
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