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.