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June 29, 2017

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Dioxin contamination confirmed in a Taiwan first, with 3 Changhua farms sealed off for 7 days

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- In the first such case in Taiwan, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has detected the known carcinogen dioxin in eggs at a concentration exceeding the legal allowable limit.

The source of the contamination has yet to be confirmed, but citizens are urged not to panic and to continue purchasing eggs as usual as the farms in question have been sealed off and their eggs have been ordered off the shelves, officials said.

According to the FDA, preliminary reports showed that the eggs containing excess levels of dioxins were produced from three egg farms in Changhua, namely Chun Yi (駿億), Hung Chang (鴻彰) and Tsai Yuan (財源).

The farms raise approximately 80,000 to 90,000 hens in total, producing an average 65,000 eggs per day.

FDA Deputy Director Lin Chin-fu (林金富) said that the three egg farms had been sealed off for dioxin-contamination inspections, and were forbidden to transport their hens or sell any of their products until the order is lifted.

All eggs and associated egg products made using the farms' eggs had been ordered off the shelves by 3 p.m. Saturday, Lin said. Downstream companies of these farms are also forbidden to use the eggs before the ban is lifted.

The Council of Agriculture (COA) said that the eggs produced from the farms in question would not be available on the market until the problem was solved.

Regarding eggs already sold to consumers, the COA said that Taiwanese consume approximately 20 million eggs per day, therefore the eggs "would have already been consumed by the time their whereabouts was discovered."

Source of Contamination Undetermined

Soil as a probable source of the contamination has been ruled out, according to the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA), because all three egg farms raise their hens in cages, and there are no incinerators, burning facilities or bottom ash recycling facilities within 3 kilometers of the farms.

Inspectors from the EPA and COA collected air, water and feed samples from the farms on Friday morning for toxic chemical tests. Results should be available within one week.

Hsu Jen-tse (許仁澤), sector chief of the EPA's Toxic Chemical Substances Control division, said the dioxins had most likely come from animal feed.

Current standards allow a maximum of 2.5 picograms per gram in eggs. National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) reported to the FDA after it found an egg containing 5.2 picograms per gram of dioxin residue on Tuesday.

The NCKU team was entrusted by the FDA to conduct an analysis into the levels of dioxin contamination in food products in Hsinchu and Miaoli.

According to the WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer, dioxins are highly toxic and can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormonal balance and cause cancer.

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