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Dioxin prevention

February 2, 2011

After a dioxin scandal rocked German supermarkets and farms last month, the government announced new rules Wednesday to prevent similar health scares. Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner spoke of an "early warning system."

eggs with dioxin written on them
Thousands of farms were closed and sales of eggs tanked nationwideImage: picture-alliance/dpa

The German government unveiled on Wednesday a new set of regulations targeting animal feed production. The rules are intended to prevent a repeat of a nationwide health scare that saw thousands of farms closed temporarily after the toxic chemical dioxin was discovered in animal feed.

"We want to make the food chain more secure," said Food and Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner. "Boosting surveillance is a key part of this," she said.

Required self-reporting

Aigner said the new rules aimed to create an "early warning system" that would require feed production companies to report all test results to officials. Companies previously only had to report results if excessive levels of a toxic chemical were found.

Private laboratories will also have to report suspicious results concerning dangerous substances such as dioxin.

Ilse Aigner
Aigner's suggestion for a Europe-wide list of permitted ingredients was shot down by other EU ministersImage: dapd

The cabinet has approved the new regulations and now expects them to be approved by parliament.

The issue of dioxin in an animal feed came to the fore in Germany in early January after contaminated feed was found to have been delivered to farms in eight German states. The feed had industrial fat mixed into it, which is not permitted.

EU looks at animal feed

During the scandal - the fourth of its kind to hit Europe in a decade - it was revealed that meat and eggs from those farms were shipped as far as Britain, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Poland.

Ministers have asked the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, to come up with new, tougher checks on companies which produce animal feed, officials at a meeting in Brussels said on Monday.

The Commission is expected to propose new measures on agricultural feed in the coming weeks.

Author: David Levitz (AP, dpa)

Editor: Nicole Goebel

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