EU Promises Stronger Oversight of Animal Feed
Seven hundred German farms closed for inspection have been allowed to reopen, but the dioxin contamination has shaken authorities, who are discussing how to prevent this from recurring.
About 15 percent of the farms closed in Germany for inspection had reopened by Sunday, according to German media reports. John Dalli, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, said his office and German authorities "are in permanent contact and the level of cooperation is very good." He promised to work in the coming weeks with EU partners and stakeholders on stronger monitoring of dioxin in feed.
In a news release, Dalli's office said the EU's Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health will receive an update on the situation at its Jan. 11-12 meeting.
EU feed business operators are required to implement and maintain processes based on Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) principles. EU maximum allowable levels for dioxins in feed were set in 2001 and took effect Jan. 1, 2002. A 2001 regulation requires that animal byproducts contaminated with dioxin must be destroyed so they do not wind up in the food chain.
The food safety became an international incident last Friday when authorities confirmed liquid egg products with elevated dioxin levels had been used in some baked goods already on store shelves. The products originated in Germany, and authorities there blame the animal feed farm Harles and Jentzsch, saying it sold fats that it knew contained higher dioxin levels than permitted.
Because the egg products were mixed with other products, the dioxin level in a given quiche or cake is very low, so the goods are not unsafe, according to Britain's Food Standards Agency.
Germany closed 4,709 farms as a preemptive measure on Friday so they could be checked; most were pig farms in Lower Saxony, according to newspapers reports that said German Agricultural Minister Ilse Aigner of the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection called for stricter, EU-wide regulation of animal feed.