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Thursday, June 10, 1999

CAP calls for long-term measures

By Jonathan Kwok

RELATED LINKS
«»Food items suspected to be contaminated
«»Milk formulas on the Health Ministry list
PENANG: The Government has been urged to implement long-term safety measures besides banning food products from Europe to protect the public from dioxin poisoning.

Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) president S.M. Mohamed Idris said one measure was to introduce alternative forms of waste disposal as the current practice of incineration released huge amounts of dioxin into the atmosphere.

"Dioxin is a highly toxic byproduct formed when waste containing chlorine is burned or when products containing chlorine are manufactured," he said yesterday.

He said the burning of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastics, paper, batteries, discarded equipment and medical waste products released dioxins as well as other pollutants.

He added that air-transported dioxin could enter the food chain long distances from its point of origin.

"Chemicals of the dioxin family are highly persistent. The most common--2,3,7,8-TCDD--has an estimated half-life of up to 29 years," Mohamed said.

In addition, the oil-soluble dioxin builds up over time once absorbed into the tissues of living things, a phenomenon called bioaccumulation.

He said fish had been found with TCDD at concentrations of up to 159,000 times that of the water in which they swam.

As Ops Dioxin entered its second day, over 40 tonnes of food items imported from the European Union (EU) worth RM230,000 have been seized in the state by health authorities.

The state Health Department's senior food technologist Leong Siew Hong said the imported foodstuff was confiscated from newly arrived shipments at the port and from 21 supermarkets.

"Port health authorities confiscated shipments of pure refined lard (from Denmark), pork tail (Finland), creamers (Holland) and butter cookies (Denmark) worth RM194,585 while the rest were items from supermarkets," he said.

Leong said that due to the ban on food items from the EU, these products would be shipped back to their suppliers soon.

Deputy state health director Dr Azmi Shapie said food products removed from supermarket shelves would be sealed and stored at the supermarkets until they were recalled.





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