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TESCO IN ROW OVER CHICKEN CANCER ALERT; Supermarket giant 'failed to display recall signs'.

Byline: AMARDEEP BASSEY

SUPERMARKET giant Tesco has been accused of failing to alert customers after the discovery of a cancer-causing drug in organic chicken.

Traces of nitrofuran, a banned veterinary medicine, were found in batches of fresh chicken sold by Tesco, Waitrose and Morrisons.

All the meat concerned was datestamped October 8 to 14 and is no longer on the shelves, but there are concerns that shoppers may have frozen it to eat later.

TheFood Standards Agency (FSA) said anyone who has the chicken, including whole chickens, chicken pieces, breasts, thighs and drumsticks, should throw it away or return it for a refund.

But one Midland Tesco worker, who did not want to be identified, said her store had not put up any warnings.

'There is no recall notice for customers to read as they enter the store and concerned staff have been told to visit their GPs if they are worried,' she said.

'The internal notice for staff states that the contaminant shouldn't cause immediate problems - but what about the future?'

She added: 'As an employee I feel very let down by this attitude and wonder how accountable supermarkets are for the verification of products they sell as organic.'

The affected chicken came from a Northern Ireland farmandwas supplied to UK supermarkets by food processing company Moy Park. Up to 23 tons of chickens - around 20,000 birds - are believed to have been distributed.

A spokeswoman for Tesco said: 'There should be signs up in all our stores making customers aware that this chicken is potentially contaminated.

'We can only apologise if the signs are not being prominently displayed in some of our outlets.'

She added 'The FSA have said that the risk to health is low. But if anyone still has any of our organic fresh chickens then they should return them for a full refund.'

It is understood that no compensation is being offered to those who may have eaten the infected chicken.

European food regulations make it illegal to use nitrofurans in the food processing of animals because it could increase the risk of cancerandtheywere banned in 1995.

The FSA said people were at risk only after long-term exposure to the drug.

A spokesman for Moy Park said the company was co-operating with an investigation by FSA officials in Northern Ireland.

The health scare comes just a month after 56 people across the Midlands were struck down by salamonella poisoning.

Health officials eventually tracked down the source as out-of-date lettuce which had been left on some supermarket shelves.

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FEARS: shoppers may have frozen the contaminated chicken to eat later
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Oct 31, 2004
Words:435
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