EC edges towards new dioxin legislation

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags European union Germany

The European Commission has given its strongest signal yet that legislation tightening up the monitoring of dioxins in the food and feed chain will follow in the wake of the German crisis.

John Dalli, EC Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner, said yesterday Brussels was considering all options , “including legislative ones”,​ and that the crisis would be discussed at a meeting of European Union agriculture heads on 24 January.

He revealed that a team of EU inspectors from the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) would be travelling to Germany to help national officials in their handling of the situation, understand how the scandal occurred and learn lessons to avoid it happening again.

Dalli made the announcement after expressing concern over last weekend’s revelations that a further 934 German farms had been closed after the discovery of fresh batches of dioxin-contaminated feed. The news came as a feed manufacturer in Lower Saxony confessed it had not provided authorities with a full list of potentially affected farms, as well as giving incorrect information over the use of contaminated feed fats in compound feed.

Strict segregation and legal requirements

In a speech to the European Parliament Monday evening, the health commissioner acknowledged that the incident, which first came to light at the end of last month, had “highlighted the necessity to ensure the effectiveness of our national control systems”.

Dalli said he was now considering the establishment of a “strict segregation” ​of the production of fats and oils intended for feed and food purposes from their production for technical uses.

“I am considering the possibility of legal requirements on reinforced controls on dioxins at different stages of the feed chain,”​ he added.

The proposals outlined by the Commissioner broadly echoed measures tabled by Germany last Friday. Ilse Aigner, Federal Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection Minister also called for the introduction of a dioxin early warning system, a new licensing system for oil and fat producers and extending legal requirements for the inspection and subsequent reporting on animal feed products.

Europe-wide calls for action

The German plan came as Belgium called on the EC to introduce rules on fats and oils across the economic bloc as it was clear that industry self-regulation was failing.

The European Animal feed industry body, FEFAC, last week urged Brussels to put forward legislation in conjunction with industry-led proposals to boost dioxin monitoring systems.

The fallout from the situation, which saw up to 200,000 tonnes of potentially tainted feed, continues to be felt.

Dioxin-contaminated meat has reportedly been processed and sold to markets in Poland and Czech Republic. Meanwhile, Japan has tightened checks over food imports from Germany due to the scare. The country has ordered importers to report all shipments of pork, poultry and eggs from Germany.

In the Philippines, the Bureau of Animal Industry will recommend to the agriculture chief a ban on importation of birds, poultry and livestock meat and related products from Germany.

Related topics Regulation Europe Safety Fats

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