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Germany

Dioxin scare re-emerges as Germany closes over 900 more farms

Germany's dioxin scare spread as 934 farms in four states were closed after receiving dioxin-laced animal feed. The closures will add to the 100 million euro price tag the farmers' union attributed to the scandal.

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Pig and hen farms are among those recently affected

Authorities in the state of Lower Saxony discovered a producer suspected of selling dioxin-contaminated feed had hidden deliveries to 934 farms, German Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner said on Saturday.

The farms have been temporarily shut, and Aigner called for immediate consequences.

"This is a scandal," she said, adding that she expected a detailed report from Lower Saxony Premier David McAllister by Saturday evening.

Elevated levels of dioxin have been traced to one fats manufacturer. The numerous feed companies that buy its fat have faced testing all this week to prove their products met the European Union's dioxin standards of no more than 1 trillionth part of food for human consumption.

Federal agriculture officials in Berlin said the latest feed-mixing company to be implicated had only just been spotted and that there was no indication it sold any tainted food.

Berlin officials said the Lower Saxony feed mixer had failed to inform authorities it had bought fat from Harles and Jentzsch, the company at the center of the scare.

The letters of the word dioxin written on eggs in a carton

Most of the products examined for high dioxin levels in Germany passed the tests

Prosecutors are now investigating whether the farm's non-reporting was deliberate. It had supplied farms in Lower Saxony, as well as the states of North-Rhine Westphalia, Brandenburg and Bavaria.

Hefty price tag for farmers

The discovery of the toxic chemical dioxin in animal feed has triggered a health alert and hit sales of German eggs and pork. Authorities are struggling to contain the scare, which began on January 3 when German officials said feed tainted with dioxin had been fed to hens and pigs, contaminating eggs, poultry meat and some pork.

Damages from the ongoing scandal would be much greater than the immediate costs of testing, according to Gerd Sonnleitner, president of Germany's national farmers' union.

"The damage from the disruption in the market will be many times the direct damage," he said.

Sonnleitner put the price of sequestering farms, requiring laboratory clearances and destroying produce that failed dioxin tests would cost German farmers 100 million euros ($130 million).

Author: Sarah Harman (AP, dpa)

Editor: Sean Sinico

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