Eggs: Contaminated products 'pose no risks'

The egg products contaminated with dioxins pose no risk to consumers because the amount of toxins are far too small, health chiefs said today.

The EU has said that although the eggs found on affected farms in Germany had five times the legal limit of the chemical, consumers would have to eat vast quantities of the final product in order for the dioxins to pose a risk to human health.

The UK's Food Standards Agency (FSA) also said the amounts any individual consumer would eat would be tiny because the contaminated eggs were subsequently mixed with non-contaminated eggs and the liquid product was diluted in cooking, reducing the amounts even further.

The FSA states: "There is no food safety risk from eating these products."

Dr Dominic Williams, senior lecturer in the MRC Centre for Drug Safety Science at the University of Liverpool, said: "The risk of harm to people in the UK from the dioxin-contaminated eggs is minute.

"There are many different man-made chemicals that can be detected in our bodies and this should not frighten people because the levels are extremely low and the human body is very efficient at removing most of them.

"People can reduce their risk of exposure to these types of chemicals by having a varied and balanced diet, which will help to avoid excessive exposure from a single food."

Dioxins are a group of highly toxic, chemically-related compounds, according to the World Health Organisation.

They can occur through natural processes but they are mainly the by-products of industrial processes including smelting, chlorine bleaching of paper pulp and the manufacturing of some herbicides and pesticides.

They have no immediate effect on our health but can cause problems if they are absorbed into our bodies at high levels for long periods.

Foods high in animal fat, such as milk, meat, fish and eggs, and foods produced with them, are a main source of dioxins, although all food contains at least low levels of these chemicals.

The levels of dioxins in any one individual's diet will vary depending on the amounts and types of foods they eat.

The risk to health comes from eating food with high levels of dioxins over a long period.

They have been shown to cause a wide range of effects in certain animals, including cancer and damage to the immune and reproductive systems, although it appears that people may be less sensitive.