Food Law News - UK - 1999

  • 4 June 1999 CONTAMINANTS - Contaminated Belgian Food: Minister Signs Public Protection Order

  • MAFF Press Release (195/99), 4 June 1999

    Contaminated Belgian Food: Minister Signs Public Protection Order

    Nick Brown, agriculture minister, today took 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 GB from midnight tonight -

    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 feedingstuffs are also being signed today and also come into effect at midnight tonight.

    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.

    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 feedingstuffs.

    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.

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

    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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