Germany announces anti-dioxin action plan

Germany announced a plan to enforce higher standards in animal feed production after the discovery of toxic chemical dioxin in feed.

Germany announces anti-dioxin action plan

Germany on Friday announced a plan to enforce higher standards in animal feed production after the discovery of toxic chemical dioxin in feed, which has triggered a health alert and hit sales of German eggs and pork.

German and European Union authorities are struggling to contain the alert which began on Jan. 3 when German officials said feed tainted with the highly toxic dioxin had been fed to hens and pigs, contaminating eggs, poultry meat and some pork at the affected farms.

There will be a new licensing system for producers of oils and fats for animal feed use plus a compulsory separation of oils and fats output for use in industrial and animal feed, German Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner said.

Animal feed producers will also be compelled to take out extra insurance as part of moves to raise standards in the industry, she said.

"We will significantly increase safety standards and sharpen obligations to notify authorities and the duty to inspect," Aigner said at a press conference in Berlin, adding, "Consumers expect this and we are going to do it."

The plan also involves a new duty on animal feed producers to test their ingredients themselves and to give all test results to the authorities, she said.

Private testing laboratories which discover suspect components in animal feed or food will also have a duty to report the findings.

Germany will also press at a European Union level for a list of ingredients permitted in feed, this could not be done by Germany alone, Aigner said.

The government will investigate expanding the criminal law to food and feed safety regulations, possibly making infringements of food safety law a criminal rather than civil offence.

An early warning system will also be created for dioxin testing by pooling test results in a data bank. Overall testing quality must be improved and local authorities must make dioxin finds public immediately, she said.

Prosecutors in Germany are investigating the cause of the contamination and specifically whether industrial fats and feeds company Harles and Jentzsch distributed fatty acids meant for industrial paper production to animal feed processors. The company has declared insolvency.

Aigner repeated that dioxin content in food discovered so far had not been at levels which endanger health. The underlying source for the current contamination had still not been found.

Dutch and EU authorities were currently investigating the role of an intermediate trader in the affair, said ministry official Bernhard Kuehnle at the conference.

China on Wednesday suspended imports of products from Germany because of dioxin fears, following an earlier move by South Korea.

No other countries had imposed import restrictions on Germany, Aigner said. Germany was in contact with China and South Korea about their restrictions, she said.

Dioxins are poisons formed by burning waste and through other industrial processes, which have been shown to contribute to increased cancer rates and to affect pregnant women.


Reuters

Last Mod: 14 Ocak 2011, 15:27
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