Poison pigs - what is the story?

He3

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KungFugazi

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How the fu*k did that stuff get into Pig feed?.

Health effects

The toxicity of PCBs to animals was first noticed in the 1970s when emaciated seabird corpses with very high PCB body burdens washed up on beaches. Since seabirds may die far out at sea and still wash ashore, the true sources of the PCBs were unknown. Where they were found is no reliable indicator of where they had died.

The toxicity of PCBs varies considerably among congeners. The coplanar PCBs, known as non-ortho PCBs because they are not substituted at the ring positions ortho to (next to) the other ring, (i.e. PCBs 77, 126, 169, etc), tend to have dioxin-like properties, and generally are among the most toxic congeners. Because PCBs are almost invariably found in complex mixtures, the concept of toxic equivalency factors (TEFs) has been developed to facilitate risk assessment and regulatory control, where more toxic PCB congeners are assigned higher TEF values. One of the most toxic compounds known, 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo[p]dioxin, is assigned a TEF of 1.[21]

[edit] Signs and symptoms

* Humans

The most commonly observed health effects in people exposed to PCBs are skin conditions such as chloracne and rashes, but these were known to be symptoms of systemic poisoning dating back to the 1922. Studies in workers exposed to PCBs have shown changes in blood and urine that may indicate liver damage. In 1968 in Japan, PCB contamination in rice bran oil caused a mass poisoning known as Yushō Disease in over 14,000 people.[22] Common symptoms included dermal and ocular lesions, irregular menstrual cycles and a lowered immune response.[23][24][25] Other symptoms included fatigue, headache, cough, and unusual skin sores.[26] Additionally, in children, there were reports of poor cognitive development.[23][25][26]

There have also been studies of the health effects of PCBs in the general population and in children of mothers who were exposed to PCBs.

* Animals

Animals that eat PCB-contaminated food even for short periods of time get liver damage and may die. In 1968 in Japan, 400,000 birds died after eating poultry feed that was contaminated with PCBs.[22] Animals that eat smaller amounts of PCBs in food over several weeks or months develop various kinds of health effects, including anemia; acne-like skin conditions (chloracne); and liver, stomach, and thyroid gland injuries (including hepatocarcinoma). Other effects of PCBs in animals include changes in the immune system, behavioral alterations, and impaired reproduction. PCBs are not known to cause birth defects in humans, although those that have dioxin-like activity are known to cause a variety of teratogenic effects in animals.

* Effects during pregnancy/breastfeeding

Women who were exposed to relatively high levels of PCBs in the workplace or ate large amounts of fish contaminated with PCBs had babies that weighed slightly less than babies from women who did not have these exposures. Babies born to women who ate PCB-contaminated fish also showed abnormal responses in tests of infant behavior. Some of these behaviors, such as problems with motor skills and a decrease in short-term memory, lasted for several years. Other studies suggest that the immune system was affected in children born to and nursed by mothers exposed to increased levels of PCBs. The most likely way infants will be exposed to PCBs is from breast milk. Transplacental transfers of PCBs were also reported.

Studies have shown that PCBs alter estrogen levels in the body and contribute to reproduction problems. In the womb, males can be feminized or the baby may be intersex, neither a male nor a female. Also, both sets of reproductive organs may develop. More instances of this are being reported. Biological magnification of PCBs has also led to polar bears and whales that have both male and female sex organs and males that cannot reproduce. This effect is also known as endocrine disruption. Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDC's) pose a serious threat to reproduction in top-level predators.

[edit] Cancer link

A few studies of workers indicate that PCBs were associated with specific kinds of cancer in humans, such as cancer of the liver and biliary tract. Rats that ate food containing high levels of PCBs for two years developed liver cancer. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has concluded that PCBs may reasonably be anticipated to be carcinogens. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) have determined that PCBs are probably carcinogenic to humans. PCBs are also classified as probable human carcinogens by the National Cancer Institute, World Health Organization, and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Recent research by the National Toxicology Program has confirmed that PCB126 (Technical Report 520) and a binary mixture of PCB126 and PCB153 (Technical Report 531) are carcinogens.

[edit] Mechanism of action

As discussed, PCBs exhibit a wide range of toxic effects. These effects may vary depending on the specific PCB. Similar to dioxin, toxicity of coplanar PCBs and mono-ortho-PCBs are thought to be primarily mediated via binding to aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR).[27][28] Because AhR is a transcription factor, abnormal activation may disrupt cell function by altering the transcription of genes. The concept of toxic equivalency factors (TEF) is based on the ability of a PCB to activate AhR.

However, not all effects may be mediated by the AhR receptor. For example, di-ortho-substituted non-coplanar PCBs interfere with intracellular signal transduction dependent on calcium; this may lead to neurotoxicity.[29] Ortho-PCBs may disrupt thyroid hormone transport by binding to transthyretin.[30]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polychlorinated_biphenyl#Health_effects
 

He3

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How indeed. Let's have a guess.

The pig farmers bought and fed the contaminated feed because it was cheap.

How many Dept officials and quango types were napping over their expense sheets?
 
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SPN

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IIRC they had this problem in Holland a couple of years ago.

I think the issue then was waste oil from electricity transformers (which were contaminated with PCBs) getting mixed with waste vegetable oil in the recycling system and being sent on for use as a protein source by ration producers.

Reminds me of the story from the US of cattle feedlots feeding cement dust to cattle in order to maximise their uptake of nutrients.

Scary!

..
.
 

KungFugazi

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More info:

By Michael Brennan Political Correspondent
Saturday December 06 2008
FOOD safety inspectors are investigating an animal feeds factory in the south east which is suspected of being the cause of a major health scare. The Department of Agriculture has banned a number of pig farms from selling or slaughtering their animals after its inspectors found traces of a toxic industrial pollutant in their pigs. It is understood that one possible source of the contamination is out-of-date bread, which did not have its packaging removed, and was subsequently used in the production of animal feed for pigs. However, it is not known yet if there is any threat to human health because the testing of the contaminated samples has not yet been completed. 'Dirty' The department inspectors discovered the presence of Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) in the slaughtered pigs. These organic compounds were used widely as coolants and lubricating fluids, but production of them was banned in the 1970s due to their high toxicity. They are a part of a group of organic compounds known as the "dirty dozen" due to their resistance to being degraded environmentally and exposure to them can lead to death or illness. It is suspected that the failure to remove packaging from recycled bread used in pig feed may be behind the presence of PCBs in the slaughtered pigs. Fine Gael TD Fergus O'Dowd, who was contacted about the issue by a concerned constituent working in the food industry, called on the department to ensure that appropriate action was taken to deal with any potential threat to people's health. The Department of Agriculture has declined to provide further details about the suspected factory on the grounds that it would not be fair to identify any particular business until further tests were carried out. Restricted In a statement, it said that a small number of pig farms had been restricted as a precautionary measure. "Animals from these farms will only be allowed to enter the food chain if they are shown to be free of the contaminant following laboratory testing," it said. The testing is taking place this weekend in the State laboratory in Celbridge, Co Kildare, and additional samples have been sent to the UK for testing. The department said it will provide the results and make a further statement on Monday. The Food Safety Authority of Ireland, which is monitoring the potential human health implications of the contamination scare, was not available for comment last night. - Michael Brennan Political Correspondent
Pig sales banned as inspectors probe toxic feed scare - National News, Frontpage - Independent.ie

Bread wrappers contain PCBs?. Wtf?.
 

Bobert

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As someone who hasn't eaten pork in ten years; Ha!

Secondly, who's going to stop eating pork over this?
 

History Student

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I see they are briefing press at 1930, hope this isnt some big problem, I had 2 slices of ham today, groan!!
 

He3

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KungFugazi

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You can take it that that is not the source.
Probably not. There was a similar case in Belgium a few years back, apparently the PCBs were "accidentally" added recycled fat used to make pig and poultry feed.

Titre du document / Document title
The Belgian PCB/dioxin incident: Analysis of the food chain contamination and health risk evaluation
Auteur(s) / Author(s)
BERNARD Alfred (1) ; BROECKAERT Fabrice (1) ; DE POORTER Geert (2) ; DE **** Ann (2) ; HERMANS Cédric (1) ; SAEGERMAN Claude (2) ; HOUINS Gilbert (2) ;
Affiliation(s) du ou des auteurs / Author(s) Affiliation(s)
(1) Unit of Industrial Toxicology, Catholic University of Louvain, 30.54 Clos Chapelle-aux-Champs, 1200 Brussels, BELGIQUE
(2) Federal Ministry of Small Enterprise, Agriculture and Trade, WTC III Boulevard S. Bolivar 30, 1000 Brussels, BELGIQUE
Résumé / Abstract
The Belgian PCB incident occurred at the end of January 1999 when a mixture of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) contaminated with dioxins was accidentally added to a stock of recycled fat used in the production of animal feeds. Although signs of poultry poisoning were noticed by February, 1999, the source and the extent of the contamination were discovered only in May 1999, when it appeared that more than 2500 farms could have been supplied with contaminated feeds. This resulted in a major food crisis, which rapidly extended to the whole country and could be resolved only by the implementation of a large PCB/dioxin food monitoring program. Screening for PCB contamination was based on the determination of the seven PCB markers. When PCB concentrations exceeded the tolerance levels of 0.1 (milk), 0.2 (poultry, bovine, and pig meat), or 1 (animal feed) μg/g fat, dioxins (17 PCDD/Fs congeners) were also determined. At the end of December 1999, the database contained the results of more than 55,000 PCB and 500 dioxin analyses. The study of PCB levels and profiles in contaminated feeds delivered to poultry or pig farms confirmed that the Belgian PCB incident was due to a single source of PCB oil introduced into the food chain at the end of January 1999. This PCB oil had a congeners pattern closely matched to a mixture of Aroclor 1260/1254 in the proportion 75/25. The total amount of PCBs added to recycled fats was estimated at 50 kg (sum of the seven markers) or approximately 150 kg total PCBs, which corresponds to about 100 liters of PCB oil. This PCB mixture contained about 1 g TEQ dioxins (more than 90% contributed by PCDFs) and about 2 g TEQ dioxin-like PCBs. The proportions of PCB 52 and 101 congeners were fairly constant in animal feeds, excluding the possibility of secondary contamination due to fat recycling from contaminated animals. The highest concentrations of PCBs and dioxins were found in poultry and especially in the reproduction animals (hens and chicks), which showed the classical manifestations of chick edema disease. The pigs were also affected but to a lesser extent and no sign of intoxication was observed. The study of PCB/dioxin patterns and of the PCB:dioxin ratios revealed major differences in the metabolism of these compounds by farm animals. Whereas the PCBs: dioxins ratio was fairly constant in all poultry products with a mean value similar to that found in contaminated feeds (50,000), in pigs this ratio was both much higher and more variable (values up to 10,000,000), reflecting a faster elimination of dioxins than PCBs in these animals. These metabolic differences also emerged from the PCB and dioxin patterns which were altered much more in pigs than in poultry. Although the most contaminated food products (chicken meat) had PCB and dioxin levels more than 100 times above maximal recommended values, it is unlikely that this incident could have caused adverse effects in the general population of Belgium. A doubling of the PCB and dioxin burden of the young adult population would require the consumption of, respectively, 10 and 20 highly contaminated meals. In view of the very limited proportion of the poultry chain effectively contaminated during the incident (around 2%), such an extreme scenario was quite improbable for the general population except perhaps for farmers consuming their own products.
The Belgian PCB/dioxin incident: Analysis of the food chain contamination and health risk evaluation


The Belgian PCB and Dioxin Incident of January-June 1999: Exposure Data and Potential Impact on Health
 
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He3

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OK here is an effort to make a list of people who are paid to protect us and our pigs.

Dept of Ag

Dept of Health

HSE

EPA

Food Safety Authority.

I am sure there are more.
 
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He3

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The Food Safety Authority has ordered the withdrawal and recall of all Irish pork products dating back to 1 September.

It follows the discovery of the dioxin PCB in pork at levels between 80 and 200 times the safe limits.

RTÉ News: Recall notice for Irish pork products


Most pork products dating back that far have already been consumed I guess.


Will heads roll?

Will pigs fly?
 

Bobert

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Explain that about why you had an early dinner?
 

garlandgreen

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I had a turkey and ham sandwich on Wednesday. Feck. That must be how I lost my bad reputation
 
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Bobert

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I had a mince pie on Tuesday...

Also, does this mean pork won't be sold for quite some time and that the country is going to be porkless?
 


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