Cancer chemicals found in eggs

Cancer chemicals found in eggs

June 22, 2001 The Guardian (London) by Felicity Lawrence

High levels of cancer causing chemicals have been found in chicken eggs at a farm in Anglesey, the food standards agency said yesterday.

The agency has been testing eggs, milk, grass and soil samples from farms in a 2km radius of foot and mouth pyres.

Jon Bell, FSA director of food safety, said it was unlikely that the problem, which appears to be confined to one farm, was linked to the slaughter.

Initial results of tests for dioxin and PCBs, both of which have been linked to cancer, were within normal background pollution ranges in other samples.

The FSA said that it was too early to draw conclusions as they were taken after animals had been put out to pasture for only a few days. Any contamination would be expected to build up more slowly. Full results are expected next month.

The eggs from the Anglesey farm were found to have PCB levels three times higher than the top end of the normal range. The farmer had asked for help when he found that his chicks were being born with deformities. The FSA is carrying out further inquiries. Contaminated chicken feed is one possibility.

The eggs contained no unusually high amounts of dioxin, which would be expected if the problem was caused by pyres, since dioxins are released when organochlorine compounds (PCBs) are burned. Duck eggs on the farm had normal levels of both dioxins and PCBs.

Dr Bell said: These are results we're just getting to grips with and obviously we need to assist the farmer to find out what the source of the problem is.'

A connection with foot and mouth pyres was extremely unlikely. We wouldn't have expected to see the PCB levels high and the dioxins not, and that is what we're seeing at the moment,' he said.

The farm was a small breeding site and the eggs were not sold to the public.

The FSA has collected more than 100 samples from north and south Wales, Cornwall, Cumbria, Devon and Scotland. Its advice remains that people should only drink low-fat milk bought from these farms, since dioxins accumulate in fat.

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