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Milk contamination frightens Serbians

BELGRADE — Some milk in the Balkans has been contaminated by a naturally ­occurring cancer-causing toxin and consumers are accusing officials of hiding how serious the problem is.

Most health officials agree that the milk is safe and that even higher levels of aflatoxins — a fungus linked to mildewed cattle feed — are not harmful in small amounts. Serbian officials have refused to have milk pulled off store shelves and appealed for calm Tuesday before official tests show conclusive results.

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But a warning by a regional official on his personal website has fueled doubts about the official line, suspicions fed by the region’s widespread corruption and the cozy ties between politicians and industry.

Worry has grown among consumers since the media first reported that the toxin had been found in some milk products after a dry summer provided conditions for the poisonous mold to grow.

High doses are linked to cancer, but experts say a person would have to drink a gallon a day for years to see any health effects.

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