EU traces source of dioxin milk contamination

Report identifies lime used in Brasilian animal feed as origin of 1998 pollution scare

The European Commission has released the broad conclusions of a report into how European milk production came to be contaminated with toxic dioxins in 1998. In a statement released on Friday, the Commission confirms that the dioxin originated in animal feed imported from Brasil, but does not name the individual source of the contamination. The contaminated animal feed was citrus pulp, produced as a by-product of the Brasilian fruit juice industry. Mineral lime is used to dry and de-acidify the pulp, and one source of lime is identified by the EU as the source of the dioxin contamination. When the problem came to light in several EU countries last year, some 90,000 tonnes of Brasilian citrus feed pellets were seized, about two-thirds of which have now been destroyed. Announcing the imminent publication of the report, a Commission spokesperson failed to name any particular company behind the contamination, but said that analysis of the dioxins showed that the lime came from a "specific supplier". In March, Greenpeace claimed the ultimate source of the dioxin was a one-million-tonne pile of waste lime owned by Belgian chemical multinational Solvay (ENDS Daily 26 March). However, the Commission statement also calls for clarification from the Brasilian authorities concerning the source two highly toxic dioxin varieties which were also present in the pellets but not found in the supplier's lime. A spokesperson for Solvay said this fact absolved the company of any blame in the matter.

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