A consignment of fishmeal feed produced in Germany using some ingredients contaminated with an antibiotic presents no danger to public health, the Lower Saxony state agriculture ministry in Germany said yesterday.
However the search for so far untraced feed will continue, while German and European Union authorities debate what to do with 274 tons impounded in Germany so far, a state agriculture ministry spokesman said.
Earlier, a Lower Saxony official said tests had shown the antibiotic was not present in measurable qualities in the feed itself.
Investigators are trying to track down the feed consignment from a factory in Cuxhaven containing fish ingredients from the Netherlands contaminated with chloramphenicol, which is used to treat life-threatening diseases such as anthrax and typhoid.
The antibiotic is restricted to serious infections because of the risk of its causing a potentially lethal form of anemia.
Batches of the suspect feed have been delivered to firms in Germany, Denmark, Poland, Romania, Austria and the Czech Republic.
"We will carry on the search but we must clear up the question of what we will do with the impounded material which is under the measurement boundary," the agriculture ministry spokesman said. "We are still compiling detailed figures about how many animals have eaten it, we cannot yet give a firm number," he said.
In Rome, an official with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said yesterday that chloramphenicol is totally prohibited for use in foods. Another FAO official based in Bangkok said farmers in Asia have applied chloramphenicol to their shrimp beds, but use of the drug is not widespread.