The European Commission has confirmed that eggs contaminated with dioxin from German animal feed have been shipped to the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
The Commission said yesterday (6 January) that 136,000 “potentially contaminated” eggs had been exported to the Netherlands for use in mayonnaise and other foodstuffs. It said that 14 tonnes of pasteurised egg product had been shipped to the UK.
German authorities have shut down more than 4,500 farms to prevent the spread of contaminated food after dioxin, which can cause cancer, was found in animal feed at the end of December.
The affected farms are mostly in Lower Saxony. Some 8,000 hens have also been destroyed after tests on eggs found traces of dioxin.
The dioxin in the eggs came from animal feed that was contaminated with fatty acids. A distributor of oils used to make animal feed in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein is suspected of being responsible for the contamination. The feed is believed to have been sent to farms across Germany.
Germany notified the Commission of the results of tests on 27 December after which the Commission issued an EU-wide alert to contain the spread of the tainted feed and animal products.
John Dalli, the European commissioner for health and consumer policy, said containing the spread of tainted feed and dioxin was “of utmost importance for the Commission”.
Dalli said he would call for ways “to further strengthen” safeguards and monitoring of dioxin in feed to prevent it from contaminating products meant for human consumption.
The EU introduced maximum levels for dioxin for animal food products in 2002.
The rules force national authorities to carry out regular controls on animal food makers to test for dioxin levels in feed production.
A Commission spokesman said Commission officials have already been in contact with animal feed manufacturers and would hold more talks in the coming days to discuss additional control measures.
The EU’s standing committee on the food chain and animal health, made up of veterinary and health officials from national authorities, will also assess the situation when they meet in Brussels on Tuesday and Wednesday (11-12 January).