Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Charedi World

25 Sivan 5759 - June 9, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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The "Mad Chicken" Scandal in Belgium Rocks the World

by N. Katzin

Three years after the "mad cow" scandal erupted in Europe, a new panic is spreading throughout the world in the wake of the "cancerous chicken" epidemic. Many countries, including Israel, now forbid the importing of poultry and poultry products from Belgium. Kosher consumers should note that products with a good hashgocho are not known to suffer from any of the contamination.

The ban on the imports went into effect despite the measures which were taken by Belgium at the end for the week to dispel the fears of the consumers and to limit the scope of the largest food scandal in Europe.

Countries in Europe and elsewhere closed their borders to such products, and forbade the importing of poultry, eggs meat and milk products from Belgium since last week, when the cancer-causing chemical dioxin was found in a container of animal food in Belgium. A quarantine was imposed on approximately 1000 Belgian farms, due to the fear that the animals on these farms had been fed poisoned food.

In Israel too, the Health Ministry has warned the public not to consume food which contains animal ingredients of Belgian origin, until further notification.

Among the other countries which placed a ban on such products are Singapore, Egypt, Algeria, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman, which have also prohibited the importation of all meat and poultry products from the European Union. Many Arab nations also forbade the importing of all food products from Belgium, due to the fear of the spreading contamination.

The government of Belgium is trying to calm consumers, saying that Belgian meat is generally free of dioxin. However butchers, grocery stores, bakeries, and many restaurants and cafes in Belgium remained closed on Sunday.

The Reneman meat store chain in Belgium, the largest such company there whose sales turnover in 1998 was more than 200 million dollars, announced that its stores will remain closed this week for 3 or 4 days, until the government vouches for the quality of the meat.

It is still not clear how the dioxin penetrated the food container, from which it spread and caused contamination in many places. Many sources call the latest scandal the "mad chicken" scandal. It is clear that it is the worst such problem to hit Belgium in the past 50 years.

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