Wednesday, 12 January 2011

unsafe always means illegal

FSA in UK are trying hard in a pitiful way though to downplay the dioxins scare,


Here is what Andrew Wadge, Chief Scientist, Food Standards Agency writes on dioxins...

You may have seen the recent stories in the news about dioxin-contaminated eggs coming to the UK from Germany. Although eating these products is not considered to be a health concern, this story still got a lot of coverage – the question is why?
I think the answer is that the concept of risk can be difficult to communicate, especially when foods are found to have levels of toxins above the legal limit. In cases like this it’s easy to assume that if the levels of dioxins, or some other chemical, are breaking the law then these foods must be unsafe – but it’s not usually that simple. Therefore, I thought this would be a good opportunity to try to help clarify what we mean by risk.
Relatively small amounts of some toxins, such as staphylococcal toxins or botulinum toxins, will make you very sick almost instantly and so shouldn’t be present in food. Other chemicals, such as dioxins (at the amounts that have been detected in food) won’t make you ill in the short-term, but will accumulate in the body. They can then be harmful if relatively high amounts are consumed over long periods of time. Scientists work out how much people can safely eat over prolonged periods (referred to as a tolerable daily intake).
For dioxins, limits are set in European legislation. These limits are not safety limits, but were established by the European Commission based on what is above a normal background level. Therefore, if foods exceed the legal limit, it does not necessarily mean there is a risk to health, but it would be illegal to sell foods above the limit or use them to make other food products.
When legal limits are exceeded, we calculate the possible impact on people’s total dietary exposure. In this particular case, these calculations did not indicate a safety concern for the contaminated eggs or egg products.
You can find out a bit more about how we calculate the risk in my June 2009 and in December 2008 blogs.

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BUT...

read carefully now...
the answer of Malcolm Kane



Andrew,
I disagree with your blog, which I find unacceptably complacent. I do however understand your responsibility to prevent undue concern among the public about such matters, but we need to be transparent.
Dioxins are a complex group of known toxins which are variously teratogenic, mutagenic or carcinogenic.
Legal limits for these dioxins are not established concentration levels that are known to be safe. Rather they are pragmatic tolerances established for the practical purpose of agreeing contamination levels that are 'liveable with' because of their understood widespread distribution in the environment, about which we can do little.
This latest Germany-sourced contamination incident increases the exposure of the public to these dioxins. An undeniable consequence of this is that over the next decades the incidence of dioxin-induced cancer, and/or life-shortening mutagenic and teratogenic conditions in the general population will be greater than would otherwise be the case. That is why food safety agencies monitor this issue and react when incidents like this are discovered.
To address your question; illegal does not always mean unsafe, but unsafe always means illegal.

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I understand the politicians and the Governments who try hard to downplay science!
But, when Scientists are playing up with limits/doses/cancer/taints...well, 
I remember Shakespeare...
and these words of Marcellus
Marcellus:
Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
Yannis Zabetakis

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