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Wednesday, June 9, 1999

Off the shelf

Retailers remove European food products; List of items out today

KUALA LUMPUR: A variety of European food products have been removed from the shelves of supermarkets and shops as the Government prepares a list of items to be banned following the Belgian dioxin scare.

The list will only be known today when Health Ministry officials meet food importers and distributors to gauge the magnitude of the problem.

Health Minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng had advised consumers to scrutinise the manufacture and import dates of European products such as sausages, mayonnaise, ice cream, eggs and egg-products.

Star Online Pix alt
NO SALE ... Britons Gary Milner and wife Julie reading the notices informing shoppers about the withdrawal of products imported from Europe at the Cold Storage Supermarket in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
STARpic by Sia Hong Kiau
"We strongly advise against consuming products dated from Jan 1 until further notice," he said.

The ministry has set up a hotline to take in queries from the public.

An officer manning the hotline said he had been getting "calls every minute" ever since the number was publicised over television and radio.

Food quality control division director Datin Dr Harisson Aziz Shahbudin said health inspectors, assisted by enforcement units of local authorities, had begun checks at supermarkets and stores.

"We are also checking with European countries and getting a list of items that are safe for consumption," she said.

On May 28, Belgium removed eggs and chicken from the shelves after some were found to be tainted with dioxin which was potentially carcinogenic.

A US Environment Protection Agency report said exposure to dioxin could cause severe reproductive and developmental problems, affect the immune system and interfere with regulatory hormones.

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