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HEALTH

‘Forever chemical’ PFAS found in organic eggs in Denmark

Most Danish egg producers said on Monday they would no longer use fish meal in feed for organic hens after the pollutant chemical PFAS was detected in eggs.

‘Forever chemical’ PFAS found in organic eggs in Denmark
Danish producers said they would cease using fish meal in feed for hens after the pollutant chemical PFAS was detected in organic eggs. File photo: Signe Goldmann/Ritzau Scanpix

Danske Æg, an industry organisation representing around 90 percent of producers in the country, said in a statement that fish meal would no longer be used as a result of the discovery.

“In consideration of food safety we have stopped using fish meal,” Danske Æg sector director Jørgen Nyberg Larsen said in the statement.

A study conducted by the DTU National Food Institute (DTU Fødevareinstituttet) and the Danish Veterinary and Food Association (Fødevarestyrelsen) found a high PFAS content in egg yolks from hen farms across Denmark.

The chemical was transferred to the eggs from fish meal, which is used in feed for the hens, the study concluded.

“We take the situation very seriously because food safety is crucial for all of us. We are therefore no removing fish meal from organic eggs and putting all our efforts towards better understanding the situation,” Larsen said. 

What are PFAS? 

PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are a large group of synthetic chemicals used in various products since the early 1950s. Their past uses include foam in fire extinguishers, food packaging and in textiles, carpets and paints. Also known as ‘forever chemicals’, they persist in water and soil and can cause harm to human health. 

Due to their chemical properties, they take a long time to break down and can be found in very low concentrations in blood samples from populations all over the world.

They are, however, unwanted in the environment because they have been found to have concerning links to health complications. Their use in materials which come into contact with foods, like paper and card, has been banned in Denmark since 2020.

PFAS have been linked to a series of health complications and, if ingested in high enough amounts, are suspected of causing liver damage, kidney damage, elevated cholesterol levels, reduced fertility, hormonal disturbances, weaker immune systems, negatively affecting foetal development and being carcinogenic.

READ ALSO: PFAS pollution: What do people living in Denmark need to know?

DTU National Food Institute said that the issue with the chemical making its way into eggs can be solved by changing the feed given to hens.

“We are already in close dialogue with the animal feed industry and work is ongoing on measures that will eliminate the problem. We note that DTU also has suggested solutions and we will naturally look at those,” Larsen said.

“But right now, we are putting a stop to fish meal so that consumers can also feel comfortable with organic eggs in the short term. After that, we can naturally look at a permanent fix,” he said.

Supermarket company Coop said on Monday that it had no plans to remove organic eggs from its shelves as a result of the detection of PFAS.

The company, which owns the SuperBrugsen, Irma and Kvickly grocery store chains, told news wire Ritzau it had been in contact with its suppliers of organic eggs to confirm that the level of PFAS in the eggs does not exceed the permitted amount.

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HEALTH

Danish region wants health service physiotherapy without referral from doctor

Greater Copenhagen says it wants to extend nationally a scheme allowing patients to access physiotherapy through the public health system without a doctor’s referral.

Danish region wants health service physiotherapy without referral from doctor

Under current rules, referral from a doctor covers around 40 percent of the cost of physiotherapy treatment.

Patients can go directly to physiotherapists without a doctors’ referral if they pay the full cost of treatment.

The proposed scheme would see physiotherapists make the decision as to whether the patient qualifies for the subsidy.

A trial project in two municipalities in the region, Ballerup and Frederikssund, proved popular with patients and doctors.

As a result, the Greater Copenhagen health region wants to see whether the scheme can be extended nationally, news wire Ritzau reports.

“If we can offer easier access to treatment thereby avoid patients getting worsened symptoms and needing more expensive treatment later on, I think it would be worth it,” Karin Friis Bach, an elected head of committee for local health services with Region Greater Copenhagen, told Ritzau.

An evaluation by the health authority suggested that direct access to physiotherapy did not increase costs for the public health provider. The scheme did not result in increased demand at physio clinics, results from evaluation of the scheme showed.

The plan could relieve strain on the health service according to the chairman for the general practitioners’ union PLO in Copenhagen, Peder Reistad.

“In a time where there is a shortage of GPs and the entire health system is under strain, it makes sense to look at whether there are tasks that can be undertaken more smoothly to free up time for general practice,” Reistad said.

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