German tests confirm dioxin food scare justified

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Tests carried out on suspicious feed fat made by a German company confirmed that it was contaminated by dioxin, a regional German health ministry said Thursday.

The firm Harles und Jentzsch in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein is alleged to have supplied up to 3,000 tonnes of contaminated fatty acids meant only for industrial usage to around 25 animal feed makers.

Nine samples out of the 20 that were analysed showed dioxin levels higher, or much higher than legal, the Schleswig-Holstein ministry said.

The fat is therefore not allowed for consumption, it added.

The German government said earlier that up to 150,000 tonnes of feed are feared to have been contaminated.

The dioxin scare has resulted in about 1,200 chicken, turkey and pig farms, most of them in northern Germany, to stop production.

There are around 375,000 farms in Germany.

A dioxin level that exceeded legal levels in eggs was found in late December.

While the scare started in two German states, 11 are affected now including Hesse, the region around Germany's financial capital Frankfurt, and southwestern Rhineland-Palatinate which borders on France.

German authorities on Wednesday informed the EU's executive Commission and business partners that 136,000 eggs, or nine tonnes from contaminated German farms were exported to the Netherlands.

The European Commission said Thursday the hunt for potentially dioxin-tainted eggs had also turned to Britain.

Dioxin, a by-product of burning rubbish and industrial activities, can cause miscarriages and other health problems in humans, including cancer.

© 2011 AFP

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