Dioxin Contamination in Animal Feed From German Biodiesel Co-Product Intended for Industrial UseDeutsche Welle -- January 4, 2011 -- The discovery of the highly poisonous chemical dioxin in eggs and poultry last week has unleashed a sprawling investigation and triggered calls for reevaluating food safety regulations. Prosecutors in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia have launched an investigation targeting chicken feed producers for having used ingredients contaminated with the poisonous chemical, dioxin.
The state's Consumer Affairs Minister, Johannes Remmel, on Tuesday demanded consequences for those responsible for the dioxin contamination. "This is a scandal and we have to discuss the political consequences," Remmel told public broadcaster ARD. "That means we have to talk about the (distribution) chain; whether the controls are sufficient," he said. Remmel added that more farms could still be shut down in the wake of the investigation. "I don't think we have an acute danger, but dioxin simply does not belong in food. There is a reason we have maximum permissible limits. Dioxin is dangerous to your health and can cause cancer," he said. More than 1,000 chicken farms across Germany have been banned from selling eggs and poultry and over 8,000 chickens were culled after cancer-causing dioxin was found in animal feed.
Authorities in the eastern states of Brandenburg and Saxony Anhalt said that at least 55 tons of suspect feed out of a total of 527 tons had already been fed to chickens and that more than 100,000 contaminated eggs had gone to market.
Problem goes beyond Germany
Gert Hahne, the spokesman for the State Agriculture Ministry of Lower Saxony, emphasized that "consumer protection is our priority." The farms affected are believed to have purchased animal feed contaminated with dioxin from a facility in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein which, in turn, received toxic products from a dealer in the Netherlands. The German feed manufacturer Harles & Jentzsch in Schleswig-Holstein said on Tuesday that for years it had been mixing waste from biodiesel production into animal feed. Company chief, Siegfried Sievert, said he had assumed that the fatty acid waste from palm, soy and rapeseed oil used to make biofuels and supplied by the Dutch company was suitable for animal feed.
The German biodiesel company, Petrotec, which supplied the fatty acids to the Dutch feed dealer, said its products were for industrial lubricants only and not intended for animal feed. Lower Saxony's Gert Hahne said it "could take weeks" before all the products from the affected farms can be tested for dioxin; a perspective that has the German Farmers Association up in arms. These farmers could be driven into bankruptcy, the association said, and demanded that the perpetrators pay for the damages with "no ifs, ands, or buts."
Author: Gregg Benzow (dpa, AP,AFP)
Editor: Nathan Witkop
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