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Last Updated: Sunday, 14 March, 2004, 17:48 GMT
'Cancer risk' brazil nuts seized
Sixty tonnes of Brazil nuts, believed to contain cancer-causing chemicals, have been seized and destroyed by health officials.

Three containers were tested for levels of toxic substances by health officers at Southampton Port in Hampshire, when they arrived on a freight ship.

The city's port health authority found the nuts contained more than 56 times the legal levels of toxins.

Health officials obtained a court order to destroy the nuts.

Imported brazil nuts are routinely tested for Aflatoxins which, according to European Commission legislation, can cause cancer of the liver.

Aflatoxins are formed by certain moulds on food, particularly nuts and nut products grown in warm, humid conditions.

When the test results revealed the high toxicity levels the importers were informed but refused to accept the findings.

The port health authority successfully applied for a destruction order from the magistrates court.

On Sunday, a spokesperson from Southampton Port Health Authority said: "The high levels of aflatoxins meant the nuts should not enter the food chain.

"The importer finally agreed to the destruction of the nuts and paid nearly 10,000 to the Southampton city council towards court costs."





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