German 'dioxin scare' farms reopen
Published 10/01/2011 | 14:22
Thousands of German farms closed by a poison feed scare have been allowed to reopen.
Agricultural officials lifted a sales ban for 3,050 farms forced to close after livestock feed was contaminated with dioxin.
"The situation has eased... but there can't be an all-clear yet," a spokesman said, adding that 1,635 farms are still closed.
Almost 500 dairy farms were also allowed to begin selling their products again, and Slovakia has lifted a ban on German farm products.
The scandal broke last week when German investigators found excessive levels of dioxin in eggs and a few samples of chicken meat. Authorities then froze sales of poultry, pork and eggs from more than 4,700 farms as a precaution.
South Korea banned the sale of some German farm products, and supermarkets in Britain withdrew quiches and cakes made with German eggs from their shelves.
Dioxins are contaminants that often result from industrial combustion and exposure to them at high levels is linked to an increased incidence of cancer.
Investigators are probing the German firm Harles & Jentzsch which had produced fat used in the tainted feed pellets. Samples of the fat contained more than 70 times the approved amount of dioxin, according to tests by the Schleswig-Holstein state agriculture ministry.
Consumer protection pressure group Foodwatch said its own tests of a contaminated sample was 164 times over the legally tolerated dioxin level. It concluded that the dioxin must result from pesticide use on crops that were later used to produce the fat and urged the government to force livestock feed producers to probe all their ingredients for excessive dioxin levels.