Tests conducted by National Chenggong University (NCU) had found that eggs sold by a distributor in Toufen Township contained dioxin residues as high as 5.2 picograms (pg) per gram of fat, more than double the national standard of 2.5pg/g. On Tuesday NCU alerted the FDA, which launched an investigation.
On Friday the FDA held a press conference to inform the public that it had ordered the three chicken farms under investigation to stop sales of contaminated eggs. The FDA deployed 108 officials and inspected 621 producers. The authorities ordered the withdrawal from the market of over 140,000 eggs.
The FDA ordered that all eggs from three distributors, Chun-I, Hung-chang and Ts’ai-yüan, be recalled by 3 pm on Saturday as a precautionary measure. Whether the contamination originated in the three farms, which account for just 0.25% of Taiwan’s egg market, is still to be determined.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), dioxins are environmental pollutants with highly toxic potential. Although they can be the result of natural processes such as forest fires and volcanic eruptions, dioxins are usually the unwanted by-products of industrial processes like smelting, chlorine bleaching of paper pulp and the manufacturing of herbicides and pesticides. Exposure to high levels of dioxins may cause skin lesions and liver dysfunction. Long-term exposure may have damaging effects on the immune system, the developing nervous system, the endocrine system and reproductive functions.
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