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Statement By Associate Administrator Margaret Glavin
USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service

July 2, 1999

"Meat and poultry products produced in European Union (EU) member states have been on hold at U.S. ports-of-entry since June 3, because feed contaminated with dioxin and PCBs may have been fed to animals in Belgium, France and the Netherlands. The hold was necessary because of concerns that open trading among EU member states may have spread contamination beyond its original boundaries.

"Based on information that FSIS has received, we have released product from Finland, Ireland, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Released product may be distributed to consumers, and additional products from these countries may be shipped to the United States. In addition, on June 18, FSIS announced it was releasing product from Denmark because of documentation that product was safe, and on June 11 released Parma ham from Italy and Serrano ham from Spain because of the long curing times for these products.

"Between January 1 and May 31, 492,251 pounds of pork came into the U.S. from Finland; 3,619,459 pounds of pork from Ireland; 392,608 pounds of pork from Sweden; and 3,394,332 pounds of pork from the United Kingdom.

"Product from the other EU countries remains on hold until information and test results give FSIS assurance that they are safe for American consumers.

"FSIS has begun testing product on hold, primarily from the countries where it is believed that contaminated feed was distributed. FSIS plans more than 700 samples for PCBs. PCB tests are being used because PCBs would be present in much greater amounts than would dioxin. Also, the test for PCBs is quicker and less expensive. FSIS anticipates that this program will be completed by mid-July."

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