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Britain bans Belgian meat

United Press International - June 05, 1999 07:26

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LONDON, June 5 (UPI) - Britain has banned all imports of Belgian
beef, pork, chicken and eggs products and ordered butchers, food
manufacturers and supermarkets to destroy existing stocks.

Agriculture Minister Nick Brown issued an emergency order this
morning after Belgian feed was found to be contaminated with cancer-
causing dioxins.

Butchers, food manufacturers and supermarkets who fail to adhere to
the order can be prosecuted, Brown warned in his emergency order. The
United Kingdom's biggest supermarket chain, Tesco, said it would remove
15 types of Belgian pate, as well as mayonnaise and croissants from
Belgium.

He said: ``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.''

Belgian chocolate manufacturers say their products are safe because
the milk they used was not contaminated.

Meanwhile, British farmers criticized the U.S. decision to stop the
import of all EU pork and chicken, saying the loss of pork exports alone
will cost British pig farms pig farmers more than $12 million.

Gwynn Howells, director general of the British Meat and Livestock
Commission, said, ``This ban is unnecessary and is more a matter of
politics than it is about food safety.''

Fast-food chain McDonald's also reassured its customers that it had
checked all ingredients and none came under suspicion of possible
contamination.

The opposition Conservative Party spokesman on agriculture, Tim Yeo,
called on the government to improve the labeling of foods in the wake of
the dioxin scare.

He said: ``A pork pie labeled 'produced in England' could have been
made with Belgian pork....The consumer is unable to tell where the
ingredients come from or how the product was made.''

The contamination problems have prompted two ministerial resignations
in Brussels, the EU food ban, and a U.S. department of Agriculture
announcement of a temporary import ban on affected EU products.

The contaminated feed reportedly made its way to almost 400 chicken
farms in Belgium, as well as 500 pig farms and thousands of cattle.

The European Commission has already ordered an outright ban on pork
and beef, as well as milk and dairy products produced on all affected
farms anywhere in Europe since mid-January. More than 1,000 farms in
Belgium and 350 in the Netherlands have been closed.

--

Copyright 1999 by United Press International.

All rights reserved.

--

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