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Contaminated animal feed spreads

Animal feed produced in Germany that was contaminated with dioxins – toxic chemicals produced as a by-product of industrial processes – have been imported to France and Denmark, according to news reports.

German authorities closed nearly 5000 farms and culled thousands of chickens across the country last week after the birds ate contaminated feed. The toxins were passed on to the birds’ eggs, and these tainted eggs were exported to Holland and the UK.

The European Commission said tests on the eggs showed dioxin levels at 0.23 picograms per gram of fat – well below the maximum level allowed of 3 picograms per gram of fat. But contaminated fat made by a chemical company based near Hamburg has now found its way into feed into France and Denmark.

“In the case in France… apparently the concentration of dioxin was lower that the maximum authorised concentration allowed in EU law for animal feed, says Frederic Vincent, spokesman for consumer commissioner John Dalli. Iise Aigner, German federal agricultural minister accused feed producers of “acting irresponsibly and unscrupulously” and warned of “serious consequences”. She urged the industry come up with “tough new regulations”.

The Commission has also called for improvements in monitoring by the food production sector “either voluntarily or by legislation”. It wants wants a new system of strict segregation between fats for industrial use and fats destined for food production.

Conservative agriculture spokesman in the European Parliament, Richard Ashworth MEP, called for greater traceability of products.

“There should be far more effective traceability systems set up, which would allow products to be traced directly in the case of a scare such as this,” he said.


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