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British watchdog says imported dioxin egg 'no health risk'

by Staff Writers
London (AFP) Jan 7, 2011
Britain's food safety watchdog has said that egg tainted with dioxin that has been imported into the country after being contaminated in Germany is not thought to be a risk to health.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said they had been informed that affected eggs were sent to the Netherlands and mixed with other non-contaminated eggs to make a pasteurised liquid egg, which was then exported to Britain.

"The mixing of the eggs will have diluted the levels of dioxins and they are not thought to be a risk to health," said the agency in a statement Thursday.

"The FSA is currently liaising with the industry and will provide further updates as information becomes available."

Dioxin, a by-product of burning rubbish and industrial activities, can cause miscarriages and other health problems in humans, including cancer.

The European Commission revealed earlier Thursday that the dioxin-tainted eggs had made their way to Britain.

A total of 136,000 eggs -- nine tonnes -- from suspect poultry farms were delivered to a firm in the Netherlands on December 3 from the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt, where they were turned into processed foodstuff.

A first batch of 86,000 eggs, or six tonnes, mixed with Dutch eggs, were processed into 14 tonnes that were exported to Britain as far back as December 12, said European Commission health spokesman Frederic Vincent.

The Commission did not know whether the foodstuff had been used in products such as mayonnaise and cake powders, or put into shampoo.

The tainted-eggs scare began in Germany, when a firm, Harles und Jentzsch, was alleged to have supplied up to 3,000 tonnes of contaminated fatty acids meant only for industrial use to animal feed-makers.

Initially thought to involve only two of Germany's 16 states, it later emerged that thousands of tonnes of feed containing the ingredient were delivered to poultry and pig farms in at least eight states.

Late Thursday, Germany's agriculture ministry said that more than 4,700 farms had been closed in the country as a precautionary measure over the dioxin scare, most of them in the northwest state of Lower Saxony.

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