European Union - European Commission: Questions and answers about the dioxin incident in Germany

The incident started with the mixing of fatty acids, meant to be used for technical purposes (such as paper processing), with vegetable feed fat, which is used in the production of compound feed for animals. The fatty acids were contaminated with dioxins, and that is how the dioxins ended up in compound feed. The actual source of the dioxin contamination –i.e. why dioxins were present in the fatty acids– remains unknown for the time being.
Friday 7 January 2011 (7 years 9 months 10 days ago)
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The incident started with the mixing of fatty acids, meant to be used for technical purposes (such as paper processing), with vegetable feed fat, which is used in the production of compound feed for animals. The fatty acids were contaminated with dioxins, and that is how the dioxins ended up in compound feed. The actual source of the dioxin contamination –i.e. why dioxins were present in the fatty acids– remains unknown for the time being.

The German authorities are currently conducting an investigation to determine how the contaminated fatty acids were mixed with the vegetable feed fat, since the fatty acids were not supposed to be used in the production of feed fat.

After the contamination occurred, contaminated feed was distributed to farms in several areas of Germany. As hens consumed the contaminated compound feed, higher levels of dioxins than those permitted by EU law were found in poultry meat and eggs.

On Monday 3 January 2011, the German authorities found out that six other consignments of fatty acids from the biodiesel company were delivered to the feed fat producer. For precautionary reasons, the German authorities decided to consider all fat produced at the feed fat manufacturer since 11 November 2010 (approximately 3000 tonnes) as potentially contaminated. The German authorities notified that this potentially contaminated feed fat was delivered to 25 compound feed manufacturers in several German Lander. This potentially contaminated feed fat was then mixed into compound feed -at a ratio of 2% to 10%- for laying hens, fattening poultry, cattle and pigs.

The German authorities have inspected all 25 compound feed manufacturers and took samples for testing, the results of which are not yet available. As far as the competent authorities have been able to establish, no potentially contaminated feed fat and no compound feed produced with potentially contaminated feed fat has been delivered to other EU Member States or third countries.

Was any product coming from now closed farms traded in other EU countries and/or exported to third-countries?

More than 1000 farms have received suspect compound feed in several German Lander. The German authorities identified these farms and, as a precaution, they imposed restrictions on all farms. The restrictions will be lifted only when controls have demonstrated that the products are safe.

Tests on eggs and poultry meat from these farms showed increased dioxin levels. In some cases, dioxin in eggs exceeded the maximum level permitted by EU law up to four times. The German authorities recalled eggs from laying hen farms that were supplied with contaminated feed. No other products have been recalled so far. In North Rhine Westphalia 8,000 laying hens from an affected farm were culled and destroyed. No other German Land has applied this measure yet.

A total of 136,000 of potentially contaminated eggs have been delivered to the Netherlands to produce egg products. Some of these egg products have been traded after processing to the United Kingdom. No other deliveries of potentially contaminated foodstuffs to other member States and Third Countries are known up to now.


What's next?

The European Commission is closely monitoring the situation with the German authorities and all relevant information related to this contamination incident will be immediately transmitted through the RASFF.

An update of the contamination incident will also be provided at the forthcoming meetings of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (the first time at the meeting of 11-12 January 2011.

The Commission services met on 5 January 2010 with the European Compound Feed Manufacturers' Federation (FEFAC) and other stakeholders involved in fats [the EU Oil and Protein meal Industry (FEDIOL), the European Biodiesel Board (EBB) and the European animal fat and animal by-product processors (EFPRA) to explore ways of further strengthening at EU level the monitoring of dioxins in the feed chain and, in particular, in oils and fats and their byproducts. Measures will also be considered in order to avoid that fats for technical purpose can be mixed with fats for feed and food. These measures should concern the production and transport levels.

http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=MEMO/11/8&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en

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