France has lifted its order for shops to stop selling Italian buffalo mozzarella having received assurances from Rome and the European Union that it is safe to eat.

Fears that mozzarella from Italy's Campania region could be contaminated with a cancer-causing dioxin were aroused this week after milk from 66 buffalo herds in the region was found to contain higher levels of the heterocyclic compound.

This morning (28 March) the French Ministry of Agriculture had called for shops to stop selling products containing buffalo mozzarella from Campania. This step was taken because it was felt to be in the best interests of consumers, the agency told just-food.

Hours later, following reassurances from Rome and the European Commission, French Minister for Agriculture Michel Barnier reversed his decision.

Italy has maintained that contaminated mozzarella has not been exported. Additionally, the European Commission said this afternoon that Italy had taken adequate safety measures to deal with the issue. 

"Accordingly, (the minister) confirmed that the consignment measures previously requested, pending further information from the Italian authorities, no longer apply," the French Ministry of Agriculture said in a statement.