Investigation underway into German egg and meat dioxin scare

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Meat, Pork

German prosecutors have opened an investigation following the discovery of dioxin in eggs and meat in the country in the past week, with the contamination reported to have stemmed from feed contaminated with industrial fats.

The German state of North Rhine Westphalia halted shipments from 14 farms producing eggs, poultry and pork after tests found excessive amounts of the contaminant in products and animal feed, according to a report on Bloomberg.

The state's Consumer Affairs Minister, Johannes Remmel, speaking on German public broadcaster ARD, questioned whether supply chain controls were sufficient in this regard.

Feed produced by Uetersen based Harles & Jentzsch was found to contain dioxin, the Schleswig-Holstein state Ministry of Agriculture and Environment said yesterday. The company stated that it had alerted officials in December to the substance’s possible presence, cited the Bloomberg article.

And, Wilhelm Deitermann, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Agriculture and Consumer Protection, told the news outlet that it may order eggs and meat pulled from retail shelves in North Rhine-Westphalia if tests completed this week confirm the presence of dioxin.

Chronic long-term exposure to the dioxin can have serious health effects, including causing cancers.

A dioxin contamination of Irish pork products at the end of 2008 cost the domestic industry €100m, according to the Irish Association of Pigmeat Processors.

Routine testing of the food chain there found pig feed tainted with the contaminant and the Irish government, as a result, ordered the food industry to recall all domestically produced pork products from the market.

Officials confirmed that the feed came from one supplier, and that the source of the dioxin contamination was subsequently contained; the tainted feed was provided to ten Irish farms that produce approximately ten per cent of the total supply of pigs in Ireland.

Ireland exported €368m worth of pig meat in 2007, half of it to the UK, according to the body representing the sector, Food and Drink Industry Ireland (FDII). Padraig Walshe, president of the Irish Farmers' Association, claimed at the time that the recall was a disaster for the pig sector at one of its busiest times.

Related topics: Europe, Safety, Regulation, Fats

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