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News > International
Belgian food scare spreads
June 3, 1999: 9:26 a.m. ET

EU may order members to destroy tainted pork after chicken, egg problems
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LONDON (CNNfn) - Europe's latest tainted-food scandal gathered speed Thursday as the European Commission indicated it may order members to find and destroy Belgian pork tainted with a cancer-causing dioxin.
     The EU's farm commissioner, Franz Fischler, said the tough measures may be necessary in light of evidence suggesting that the same contaminated feed that has already prompted a blanket recall of poultry and eggs may have been fed to pigs as well.
     "I think as a precautionary measure, we will have to extend the additional measures to pork," Fischler told Reuters. He added that the curbs may have to be applied beyond the 500 pig-breeding farms that Belgian authorities suspect may have been affected by the contamination.
     In another sign that the problem is expanding, Belgium's newly appointed health minister Luc Van den Bossche said Thirsday the government was testing cattle for the presence of dioxin.
     Earlier this week, grocery stores across Belgium purged their shelves of chickens and eggs -- including egg-based products such as mayonnaise, pasta and cakes -- after the food scandal broke.
     The food scare has already resulted in two political casualties: Belgium's farm and health ministers stepped down Tuesday amid a public outcry following allegations they withheld knowledge of the contamination.
    
A psychological toll

     But the scare is also taking a heavy psychological toll in a European region with still-fresh memories of the British "mad cow" food scare three years ago.
     In that episode, the EU banned exports of British beef to the continent on the grounds that scientists had not ruled out a possible connection between a bovine brain disease and a life-threatening brain affliction in human beings.
     More recently, the EU has been locked in a trans-Atlantic trade tussle with the United States over U.S. exports of hormone-treated beef. The EU has asserted the beef poses a potential health hazard and has slapped a ban on imports.
     The move has prompted threats of retaliation from the United States, which has brought its own scientific findings to bear in declaring the beef safe.
     For Belgium, a European country famous for its gastronomic pride, the chicken, egg and pork scare -- dubbed "Chickengate" by the Belgian press -- hits a sensitive nerve.
     It also is likely to strike a further blow to pan-European unity ahead of European Parliamentary elections next Thursday.
     EU veterinarians on Wednesday banned exports of eggs and chickens from affected farms, but refrained from a more sweeping ban, placing their trust in Belgian authorities to destroy the tainted stock on their own.
     The Belgian authorities believe they have traced the contaminated feed problem to a single company, Verkest, which is charged with selling impure animal fats.
     The EU ordered the destruction of chicken and egg products made between Jan. 15 and June 1.
     Elsewhere in the EU, German authorities said Thursday they had no indication of contamination in their own pig feed.
     Danish officials, meanwhile, have initiated a tightened inspection and control rules for chicken and egg products to avert a similar food scare in their own country.Back to top
     -- from staff and wire reports

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Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2018 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2018. All rights reserved. Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2018 and/or its affiliates.