January 4, 2011

German Farms Shut Down Over Tainted Feed

More than a thousand German farms have been temporarily banned from production due to a scare over animal feed tainted by toxic dioxin, authorities said on Monday.

The farms affected were in the northwestern state of Lower Saxony, Gert Hahne from the state agriculture ministry told AFP. "Consumer protection is our priority," he said.

Those farms are believed to have purchased animal feed contaminated with dioxin from a facility in Schleswig-Holstein, which apparently received toxic products from a source in the Netherlands.

Hahne was not able to say exactly how many tainted products entered the food chain. "At the current time, we are not able to estimate that," he said. It would take "a matter of weeks at least before products from these farms can be tested for dioxin."

"We do not suspect there is any fundamental danger, but we also cannot rule that out," he told AFP.

Dioxin, which is produced by burning refuse and through other industrial activities, can cause a wide range of illnesses including cancer and miscarriages.

An excess level of dioxin was discovered in eggs and poultry in the northwestern state of North Rhine-Westphalia last week, which led to the ban.