UPDATE - Belgian PCB contamination spreads to pigs
BRUSSELS - Belgium said yesterday it had found the same cancer-causing chemicals in pig feed that it discovered in chicken feed made by a local compounder.
Health officials said two samples of pig feed made by the compounder in the western Flemish town of Roeselare near the French border had traces of polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs.
Their level of contamination exceeded by up to eight times the national threshold of 200 micrograms per kg, according to the federal agency in charge of safety in the food chain, known by its French acronym AFSCA.
\"Given the measured value of the meal and the short exposure of the animals, the expected concentrations in the fat of the pigs are not expected to be alarming,\" it said in a statement.
The feed went to eight pig farms on January 4.
Four of the farms sent pigs to slaughterhouses before they were ordered by the AFSCA to stop deliveries.
AFSCA spokesman Pascal Houbaert said some 1,000 pigs from those four farms had already been slaughtered and sent to market before the agency was able to order their seizure.
Houbaert said pork from several hundred pigs ended up in the local food chain, but he did not know if any had been sold to the public.
AFSCA had not yet found the source of contamination, he added.
A spokeswoman for Delhaize , one of Belgium\'s biggest supermarket chains, said it had received pork from about 100 pigs from those slaughterhouses but was advised by AFSCA in time to prevent them from being sold in their stores.
French retailer Carrefour , who owns Belgium\'s largest supermarket chain, said it had not received any of the suspected pork.
On January 18, the AFSCA seized 4,500 pieces of frozen chicken at a slaughterhouse in the northern town of Torhout, but not before another 13,500 pieces had gone to the market.
Their levels of contamination went as high as 10 times the normal level of 200 micrograms per kg of fat for chickens.
The discovery of the contamination immediately sparked fears in the public of a rerun of the 1999 dioxin scandal in which cancer-causing dioxins entered the food chain through animal feed. The health scare led to Belgian meat and dairy exports being banned by many countries around the world.
The 1999 contamination also started with chicken and then spread to other animals.
But officials immediately denied any link saying that the contamination was not on the same scale.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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