German authorities are searching for a consignment of imported veal contaminated with an antibiotic which can halt production of human blood cells, the federal Ministry of Agriculture and Consumer Protection said.
The ministry said yesterday that a mistake in a Dutch laboratory led to Dutch calf meat with the antibiotic chloramphenicol being cleared as safe and exported to Germany, France and Austria.
In Germany the meat was sold to buyers in the states of Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia.
"Authorities in these two states are today seeking to find this meat," said a federal ministry spokesman.
"Meat consignments are registered so it is technically possible to find it, the question is whether it has already been sold. The matter involves one animal only."
Authorities in Germany, Denmark, Poland, Romania and Austria were this week also tracking down a consignment of animal feed containing fish ingredients from the Netherlands tainted with chloramphenicol.
The antibiotic is used to treat life-threatening diseases as anthrax and typhoid but is restricted because of a risk it could cause a lethal form of anaemia.
Officials in Germany said contaminated shrimps imported into the Netherlands from the Far East had become part of a consignment of 188 tonnes of fish scraps subsequently shipped to a feed plant in Lower Saxony.
The ingredients went to six animal feed producers in Germany and three other companies - one each in Denmark, Poland, and Romania.
However, officials claim that four of the German firms make pet food only, and the amount of contaminated feed that had reached producers of farm animal feed was very small.
"A connection between the two cases cannot be completely excluded but looks unlikely," the spokesman said. "The calf apparently had far higher doses of the antibiotic than it could have received from eating the feed. But the investigation of the cause is in the hands of the Dutch authorities."
Meanwhile, federal Agriculture and Consumer Protection Minister Renate Kuenast today faces questioning by the agriculture and consumer protection committee of the lower house of the German parliament about her ministry's delays in handling warnings about the contaminated fishmeal feed.