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Thursday, January 06, 2011

Dioxin in Animal Feed Shuts German Farms

More than 4,700 German farms have been closed after large amounts of animal feed were found to be contaminated with dioxin. Dioxin is a poisonous chemical, linked to the development of cancer in humans.

Officials insist the levels of dioxin do not pose a risk to humans, and that the closures are only a precaution.

Meanwhile, the EU has warned that eggs from farms affected by dioxin have entered the UK in processed products destined for human food.

Last week, more than 1,000 farms were banned from selling eggs after dioxin was found in eggs and poultry.

It is believed that the poison reached the animal feed after being distributed by a company in northern Germany which supplies additives for animal feed.

The dioxin was discovered in late December, but the extent of the problem was only revealed earlier this week when German officials said 3,000 tonnes of feed had been affected.

Earlier, officials said they believed that just 527 tonnes of the additive - which is a type of fat - had been contaminated.

Holger Eichele, a spokesman for Germany's agriculture ministry, said the European Commission had been informed and it was not aware of exports to any other EU states.

There were no indications that the suspect ingredient or any potentially tainted feed had been exported, he added.

A spokesperson for EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy John Dalli said it was "too early" to consider a ban on exports.

Police carried out searches on Wednesday at the Schleswig-Holstein farm which produced the fat, Harles and Jentzsch, and a subsidiary in Lower Saxony.

Harles and Jentzsch sold the fat to 25 German feed manufacturers.

It has said the dioxin possibly came from a Dutch supplier.

Most of the affected farms are said to be located in Lower Saxony.

Germany's agriculture ministry said on Thursday that most of the closed farms were ones raising pigs.

The ministry said the farms would not be allowed to make any deliveries until they had been checked and found to be clear of contamination.

And European Commission health spokesman Frederic Vincent told a news conference how the problem had now reached Britain.

"Those eggs were then processed and then exported to the United Kingdom... as a 14-tonne consignment of pasteurised product for consumption," he said.

"Whether it went into mayonnaise, pastries, I don't know. So we will probably take a look at this with the UK authorities and see what was done with these eggs."

Consumer Protection Minister Ilse Aigner (yes, that Consumer Protection Minister) urged states affected by the tainted food scandal to clarify whether eggs contaminated with dioxin had been sold to consumers.

To date, North Rhine-Westphalia has been the only state to name two chicken farms that delivered products out to regional grocery stores, German radio says.

As a result of the scandal, more than 8,000 chickens have been culled.

Germans have been urged to keep an eye out for eggs that may have been tainted.

Officials say the warning to consumers applies only to eggs sold before 23 December.

Under current German law, offenders who use harmful or banned substances in food and animal feed can be fined or face up to three years in prison.

Regional agricultural ministers plan to meet later this month to discuss the consequences of the dioxin scandal.

"There is an urgent need for much stricter penalties against those who break the law when it comes to food and animal feed regulations," said Juergen Reinholz, agriculture minister for Thuringia.

Such "charlatans" can only be swayed by strict, deterrent sanctions, he said.

Click here for video from the BBC.

posted by CASFS 2006 @ 7:43 PM

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