'No health risk' from dioxin eggs

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Egg contaminated with dioxins was used in cakes and quiches sold in the UK's major supermarkets, but the FSA has played down the health risk

Health chiefs have moved to reassure consumers after confirming egg contaminated with dioxins was used in cakes and quiches sold in the UK’s major supermarkets.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said supermarkets had already sold most of the products, which had a short shelf life and had probably been eaten. It has advised retailers to clear any remaining affected items from shelves but stressed that consumers do not face any health risk from eating the products.

The pasteurised liquid egg was supplied to Kensey Foods in Cornwall and Memory Lane Cakes in Cardiff, who used it to make the products which were supplied to supermarkets, the FSA said. It does not have a “definitive list” of the supermarkets who sold the products, but Tesco and Morrisons were two of them.

It emphasised that the mixing of the eggs would have diluted the levels of dioxins and there was not thought to be a risk to health.

The FSA said: “There is no food safety risk from eating these products. The majority of products will have been sold and most have passed their ‘use by’ or ‘best before’ dates. Supermarkets are removing the small amount of products that are still in date.”

Tesco said in a statement: “Tesco is withdrawing a small number of products. We would like to stress to customers that this is a purely precautionary measure and the FSA has stated there is no food safety risk.”

Fourteen tonnes of the contaminated egg which originated on continental Europe entered the UK destined for use in goods like pastries and mayonnaise, the EU executive said on Thursday. The alert came after it was discovered that poultry feed contaminated by toxic dioxins was sent to more than 1,000 poultry and pig farms in Germany. Some of the eggs from those farms were then transported to Holland.

The FSA said: “These eggs were mixed with other non-contaminated eggs to make pasteurised liquid egg. This pasteurised liquid egg has been distributed to the UK. The mixing of the eggs will have diluted the levels of dioxins and they are not thought to be a risk to health.

The dioxin was discovered in late December but the extent of the problem was only revealed this week when German officials said 3,000 tonnes of feed were affected. Germany has stopped more than 4,700 farms selling their meat and eggs as a result of the scare. Dioxins are chemicals formed by industrial processes and waste burning. They have been shown to contribute to higher cancer rates and affect pregnant women.

Ian Jones, from the British Egg Products Association, told BBC Radio 4 You and Yours that association members were “extremely concerned” about the impact of the contamination on the industry and urged people to check for the British Lion mark on eggs. “I have to say this is not the first instance that there has been of contaminants coming into egg products into the UK,” Mr Jones said.

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