News 25 Feb 13

Milk Scare Spreads to Kosovo and Albania

Food safety authorities in Kosovo have ordered the removal from the market of milk produced by five dairies amid fears of contamination by M1.

Besar Likmeta
BIRN
Tirana
A bartender pours milk in a coffee at a cafe in Belgrade, Serbia, Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013. Reports that milk in the Balkans has been contaminated by a cancer-causing toxin have triggered a major health scare throughout the region, with authorities appealing for calm before official tests are conclusive. Photo by:AP/Darko Vojinovic

Kosovo’s Agency of Food and Veterinary, AUV, ordered the removal of milk produced by two Albanian, one Croatian and two Bosnian diaries after initial tests suggested possible contamination by the toxin.

“These products are being withdrawn in cooperation with the importing companies, awaiting the result of fresh analysis, which will determine if they can return for sale,” AUV said.

Aflatoxins are produced by mould and can damage human and animal health if they enter the food chain in significant concentrations.

AUV ordered the removal of milk from Albanian producers Fast milk and Primalat, Croatia's Dukat, and two Bosnian dairies, Meggle and Zott.  

Following the move by Kosovo, the Albanian Ministry of Agriculture announced that it would test milk produced by local diaries in order to determine if there was a higher than normal presence of alfatoxins.

“The National Food Authority, AKU, conducts periodical tests of milk that diaries produce in Albania and in the past the presence of alfatoxins has not turned up,” the ministry said.

Based on information received from other countries in the region, the ministry said milk produced by Dukat of Croatia had already been sent for testing.

Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia and Montenegro have already taken out of the market milk produced by Dukat and another Croatian diary, Vindija , after analysis in Vienna showed that the amount of M1 in the milk was 0.006 per cent, slightly higher than the legally permitted limit of 0.005 per cent.

However, one Albanian producer, Primalat, panned the move in Kosovo and said that it routinely tested their milk, which was safe and met all necessary standards.

“We use the best technology and our milk is totally guaranteed,” Vigan Dervishi, director of Primalat, told the broadcaster News 24.

According to Dervishi, the company was being unfairly targeted by Kosovo’s authorities, who he maintained were illegally protecting the interests of local producers.

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