More PCBs found in Belgian animal feed

Source of chemical contamination still not known, cross-border impacts unclear

Belgium has found itself in the midst of a new food safety scare after routine tests last week revealed traces of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) in some animal feeds. The source of the contamination is as yet unknown and the cross-border consequences of the incident are unclear. The development follows discovery of similar but more widespread contamination last summer, which contributed to the then government being thrown out of office (ENDS Daily 15 June 1999) and gave new impetus to EU-level discussions on improving food safety (ENDS Daily 16 June 1999).

The new contamination came to light on Wednesday after workers at feed producer Bauduin-Cambier in Feluy, Wallonia, found PCB in a random sample of feed preparations. Subsequent tests showed other batches of feed were also contaminated. The Belgian government said all feed produced by the plant since 20 April - the last date on which a random test showed no contamination - was potentially tainted with the PCBs.

The government said around 200 livestock farms had received feed from the plant since then and pledged to destroy all milk produced by them over that period. Most of the farms are in Belgium; several horse studs in northern France were also affected. The government said it would investigate whether any produce intended for human consumption - including any since exported out of the country - had been contaminated by the chemical.

Follow Up:
Belgian agriculture ministry, tel: +32 2 211 0611; see also two press releases.

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