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Tuesday, June 8, 1999

Ban on EU food

Govt also recalls foodstuff in face of dioxin scare

By Emily Mathews

KUALA LUMPUR: The Government has ordered an immediate recall of all meat, eggs, dairy products and infant formula produced in the European Union following the discovery of dioxin, a cancer-causing chemical found in animal feed and foodstuff in Belgium.

Health Minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng said yesterday entry of all canned meats and dairy products from EU countries had been banned with immediate effect.

The ban would be in force until importers could certify their products dioxin-free.

Chua said dioxin, which is banned under the Food Regulations 1985 as a harmful chemical substance, is believed to cause prostate cancer in men and cancer of the uterus and breast cancer in women.

He said although dioxin was reported in foodstuff only in Belgium so far, the ministry decided to impose the ban on all EU products as it was difficult to track the movement of animals and foodstuff within the EU countries.

The products which are recalled are meat, eggs, milk (fresh and powdered), canned meats, infant formula and dairy derivative products such as chocolates.

"It is an extensive ban and covers a wide range of products but it is necessary to protect Malaysians," said Chua.

"These measures are necessary to stop the entry of dioxin into our food chain, as it is extremely poisonous and carcinogenic."

Last week, Belgium recalled chickens and eggs off the shelves after some were found contaminated by dioxin.

Chua said the recall would be carried out with the help of the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers and respective chambers of commerce and all retailing outlets in supermarkets.

He said health officers would check supermarkets and retail shops for such products but noted there was insufficient manpower to ensure all the products were taken off the shelves.

"Therefore we are also calling on consumers to read labels carefully and report errant retailers. This is a serious offence.

"Anyone found guilty of preparing or selling food which is poisonous or injurious to human health can be sentenced to five years jail or a fine or both under Section 13 of the Food Act and Regulations 1993," he said.

Chua said that although the Veterinary Services Department had given an assurance that Malaysia did not import raw meat from EU countries, the ban on canned meats was a precautionary measure against dioxin contamination.

Recalled products should be sent back to the importers or suppliers.

Malaysia imported RM24.7bil worth of goods from Europe between January and November last year.



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Copyright © 1999. Star Publications (Malaysia) Bhd. (Co No. 10894-D)
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