Focus Corner

Pesticide blamed as dioxin food scare reaches France, Denmark

January 11th, 2011 by   (View Author Profile)

GERMANY’S DIOXIN food scare has spread to Denmark and France as the cause of the outbreak was reportedly identified yesterday as pesticides mixed into animal feed fat.

The discovery of dangerous levels of cancer-causing dioxins in eggs, poultry, pork and feed is “no cause for panic”, Germany’s agriculture minister insisted yesterday, but has caused “immense” problems for farmers and the reputation of German food exports.

Slaughter bans were lifted yesterday on about three-quarters of 4,700 farms shut down as a safety precaution after weekend tests revealed their feed to be dioxin-free. More farms are likely to reopen this week.

“The damage that has resulted from this is immense, not only from its impact on producers but also on the trust among consumers,” said Ilse Aigner, federal agriculture minister, after a meeting in Berlin of farmers, feed producers and consumer groups yesterday.

She accused the feed producers of “acting irresponsibly and unscrupulously” and warned that the scare would have “serious consequences”.

However, Ms Aigner failed to announce any new measures, insisting instead that the industry itself come up with “tough new regulations”.

The contaminated fat from the German feed company Harles and Jentzsch has found its way into feed in France as well as a batch of feed given to breeder hens in Denmark, which are not intended for human consumption.

“In the case of France, in the lot exported, apparently the concentration of dioxin was lower than the maximum authorised concentration allowed in EU law for animal feed,” said Frederic Vincent, spokesman for consumer commissioner John Dalli.

German lobby groups accused the minister of being soft on the industry and have demanded new widespread feed tests with an obligation to lodge the test results with the authorities.

The opposition Green Party attacked the minister for “declarations of intent rather than firm measures”.

Despite the widespread lifting of the ban yesterday, the European Commission insisted that all animals that test positive for dioxin will be culled.

Mr Vincent said the commission would legislate unless the industry presented their own proposals.

He described as “overblown” import bans in Slovakia, South Korea and other countries on German poultry and eggs.

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