Thu, May 04, 2017 - Page 3 News List

COA to overhaul animal feed dioxin level regulations

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

The Council of Agriculture (COA) yesterday said it plans to revise regulations on dioxin levels in animal feed, nearly two weeks after excessive dioxin residue was found in chicken eggs.

The nation’s first case of chicken eggs found to contain dioxin concentrations exceeding legal standards was announced by the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on April 21.

Three government agencies — the ministry, the council and the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) — at the time announced that they would work together to trace the origin of the eggs and the source of the dioxins, while removing suspected contaminated eggs from store shelves and imposing bans on suspected chicken farms.

The cause of the contamination has yet to be identified.

However, at a meeting yesterday of the Legislative Yuan’s Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee, lawmakers across party lines questioned officials from the three agencies regarding their failure to identify the cause after 12 days.

The FDA on Wednesday last week identified Hungchang (鴻彰) farm in Changhua County as the source of the contaminated eggs, and all the farm’s hens and eggs were culled and destroyed.

How those hens and eggs came to be contaminated is still unknown.

Environmental Protection Administration Minister Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) yesterday said that his agency had compared 17 dioxin and furan congeners found in the eggs with 17 congeners from environmental media — including soil, water, air, plants and animals that can contain contaminants — around the farm, but found that the dioxins were not associated with the surrounding environment.

The council sampled the farm’s chicken feed, but the results showed that neither it nor feed additives were contaminated by dioxins, council Deputy Minister Huang Chin-cheng (黃金城) said.

Further investigation would be required, Huang said.

Eggs suspected to have been contaminated with dioxins have been removed from store shelves and destroyed to limit public health risks, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lee Yan-hsiu (李彥秀) criticized the agencies as “shameless” for not taking responsibility for a major food safety scandal.

Lee also asked if the EPA has done its best to manage toxic waste.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wu Yu-chin (吳玉琴) questioned the council’s ability to effectively manage what additives farmers introduce to animal feed.

Citing standards used in the EU, Huang said the council plans to set maximum allowable levels of dioxin and other toxic substance residue in animal feed.

It would announced those levels later this week at the earliest, Huang said.

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