/ 'Panic spreads' over dioxin food scare
THE DIOXIN food scare dominated yesterday's front pages, with most papers
taking a critical stand on the government' handling of the issue.
Politis, under the headline 'Panic about food', blamed the "unclear
information" given by the government for the panic that had spread among
consumers. While the health department was removing the Belgian products
suspected of containing dioxin from supermarket shelves, "frustrated
consumers are demanding, here and now, a list with the brand names of all
dangerous products", it said.
While European countries, including Belgium, had issued lists of the
products that could contain dioxin, the Cyprus authorities did not consider
it necessary to do so, the paper said. The lack of information had also
affected many importing companies, which were doing everything to protect
their products, it said.
Haravghi said there was still a question mark over whether members of the
Cyprus public had consumed food containing dioxin, as large quantities of
butter and chocolate had been imported from Belgium by local food
producers. The paper also claimed that there were doubts about imported
animal fodder, despite assurances by the Ministry of Agriculture that these
The problem was that Cyprus, like many European countries, did not posses
the specialised laboratories needed to trace dioxin in food. As a result,
the Cyprus authorities relied on the assurances given by the countries
which supplied the suspicious products, without being in a position
independently to confirm that the food was safe.
Simerini played up the health risk, giving prominence to the possible
effects on children that the consumption of food containing dioxin would
have. It quoted a senior medical officer at the Ministry of Health as
saying that the effects of eating food containing dioxin would take years
In ten years' time, children who had consumed large quantities of food
containing dioxin could suffer from cancer, liver diseases, neurological
problems and sexual problems, the doctor told the paper. Once poisons such
as dioxin entered the body, they attacked and destroyed the immune system,
which was why it could take up to 10 years before their effects surfaced.
Machi also focused on the medical side of the issue in its front-page
editorial, saying the symptoms caused by consumption of dioxin were the
same as those of DDT. It did not only cause cancer, but also severe
hormonal imbalance. Consumers were urged to be careful about what they
Alithia led with a report about the arms cache found in the house in Galata
village of the late Ioannis Koukoularides, father of Charalambos, a former
chief of the intelligence service Kyp. The paper said that the arms find
took on political dimensions as Charalambos Koukoularides, who had died
recently, was a "well-known henchman" of Spyros Kyprianou, having been in
charge of presidential palace security during the Kyprianou presidency.
According to the paper, in 1979, during Kyprianou's presidency, some 19,000
cartridges had been taken from the stores of the police HQ and, allegedly,
had been given to Koukoularides' "armed gang". The man in charge of the
police stores had been given instructions from above not to report the
incident, but to say instead that the cartridges had been used during
Phileleftheros led with a report about the "frenzied behind-the-scenes
activity" at the UN Security Council, the G8 and the foreign ministries of
Britain and the US with regard to the Cyprus problem. All these groupings
were looking for the golden mean between the positions of the two sides, so
that a framework for negotiations could be worked out.
© Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999