Food Law News - UK - 2001

FSA Press Release (2001/0125). 5 July 2001

CONTAMINANTS - First Report on Dioxins around Pyres 'Reassuring' - Local Investigation into Scottish Farm

Further test results for dioxins and PCB's in foods around selected pyres in the UK nearly all fall within the expected range and give a generally reassuring picture at this stage, says a report published by the Food Standards Agency today.

Over a third of all samples (63) have now been tested from Anglesey, Cornwall, Cumbria, South Wales, Dumfries and Galloway and Devon. Samples tested include milk, hen eggs, duck eggs, chickens, cheese, butter, soil and herbage. All results are as expected, apart from two exceptions which appear to be unrelated to the pyres.

For the first time milk samples from cattle that had been grazing for 4-6 weeks are reported and show no increase in levels of dioxins. The 4-6 wk period is important because this is when we would expect any high accumulations of dioxins to appear.

The Agency is currently investigating results from a small holding in Scotland where levels of dioxins were higher than expected in meat from two hens. There are no public health implications because the hens were not destined for the food chain. Eggs from the hens had levels of dioxins within the expected range indicating a local problem. The owners, who only used the hens as egg layers for their own consumption, have been informed of the results.

Investigations are also continuing at Anglesey where the Agency earlier reported higher than expected levels of PCBs in hen eggs. This may be due to local contamination and is not consistent with emissions from pyres.

Food Standards Agency Deputy Chair, Suzi Leather said:
"In general the situation across the UK is reassuring. Nearly all of the results are within expected ranges and indicate that foods from these areas don't pose a risk to public health. There have been two exceptions to date, in Wales and in Scotland, which are subject to further investigations. These appear to be a localised problem and were not intended for the food chain."

Full results of the Agency's testing programme are expected at the end of July.

The interim report from the FSA is available on the Agency website at

Until the sampling is complete, our precautionary advice to the very small number of people who only consume whole milk and whole milk products from animals within 2 km of pyres is still that they may wish to vary their diet.

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