Germany vows tough action after dioxin scare

9th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

Germany's agriculture minister vowed Sunday to get tough after a dioxin poisoning scare prompted other countries to ban some imports on farm products, and put thousands of farmers under severe strain.

"This is a big blow for our farmers. They have totally innocently been dragged into this situation by the sick machinations of a few people," Ilse Aigner told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

"It is tough to shake off the suspicion from the information that we have so far that criminal energy has been combined with an alarming unscrupulousness.

"The judiciary has to clamp down hard."

Police last week raided a firm in northern Germany suspected of supplying up to 3,000 tonnes of fatty acids meant only for industrial use contaminated with cancer-causing dioxins to some 25 animal feed makers.

These companies then delivered reportedly up to 150,000 tonnes of contaminated feed to farms -- mostly those producing eggs and rearing poultry and pigs -- across the country.

Germany banned some 4,700 farms from selling any products while authorities performed tests, destroying more than 100,000 eggs and launching recall actions. Some 500 dairy farms were given the all-clear on Saturday.

The German government has moved to curb fears by saying tests conducted so far on eggs and poultry meat indicate that there is no immediate risk to public health.

None of the contaminated feed was exported, Berlin says, and 136,000 eggs -- annual output is 10 billion eggs -- made it abroad, and all to the Netherlands, where some of them were made into products that ended up in Britain.

The European Commission said there were no grounds for a ban on exports of German meat or other products and called import restrictions by South Korea on German pork imports "out of proportion."

This did not stop EU member state Slovakia suspending sales of German poultry meat and eggs while it conducted tests.

Russia's agriculture watchdog said it had stepped up controls on food of animal origin from Germany and also from other EU countries although it did not specify which ones fell under the tougher regime.

© 2011 AFP

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