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Friday June 4, 5:35 pm Eastern Time

FOCUS-Portugal bans Belgian livestock, products

(Adds numbers of poultry, pigs and cattle seized, background)

LISBON, June 4 (Reuters) - Portugal banned the import of live Belgian cattle, pigs, poultry and products derived from them on Friday, due to fears they may contain the carcinogen dioxin, Agriculture Minister Luis Capoulas Santos said.

He told reporters Portugal also had ordered the seizure of all cattle, pigs, poultry and products that had entered the country since January 15.

Capoulas Santos said the ban on the imports of live cattle, pigs and poultry would remain in force at least until a special meeting of veterinary experts from the 15 European Union (EU) states takes place in Brussels on Monday.

He said the Portuguese authorities had so far seized 63 tonnes of chicken and egg products imported from Belgium and 62 tonnes of pork products.

No imports of cattle products had been detected, he said.

Capoulas Santos said that the authorities had seized 1,200 breeding birds, 15 breeding pigs and 165 cattle.

An Agriculture Ministry official, who was not identified, told the Portuguese news agency Lusa that perishable animal products would be destroyed.

Earlier, the European Commission said it had officially adopted measures to curb sales throughout the EU of Belgian beef, pork and dairy products in the widening scare over dioxin poisoning.

The measures followed the discovery that chicken and egg stocks on some farms in Belgium contained dioxin.

Later it was found that Belgian animal feed containing the highly toxic element could have been fed to swine and cattle both in Belgium and neighbouring countries.


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