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Germany moves to head off more dioxin food scares

Around 100,000 eggs were destroyed while some 4,700 farms were banned from selling their products pending tests, followed on Saturday by a further 934.
by Staff Writers
Berlin (AFP) Jan 19, 2011
The German cabinet approved a package of measures on Wednesday aimed at preventing a repeat of this month's damaging scare over dioxin poisoning in farm produce.

"What is important for consumers is that this plan is now swiftly put into place so that the quality of controls, which is what is decisive, gets much better," government spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters.

The scandal began earlier this month when it emerged that a north German firm may have supplied fatty acids only meant for industrial uses to makers of animal feed late last year. The feed was then widely distributed.

Around 100,000 eggs were destroyed while some 4,700 farms were banned from selling their products were closed pending tests followed on Saturday a further 934 farms. All but around 900 have now been given the all-clear.

Around 100,000 eggs were destroyed while some 4,700 farms were banned from selling their products pending tests, followed on Saturday by a further 934. All but around 900 have now been given the all-clear.

South Korea and China banned German pork imports, while Japan ordered importers to report all pork shipments. Slovakia outlawed the sale of German eggs and poultry meat but the ban was lifted last week.

Under government plans, firms will not be able to produce fats for industrial uses and for animal feed at the same site, makers of animal feed will be subject to tougher regulations and more inspections, and penalties will be harsher.

Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner also wants to set up an early warning system and to give consumers more transparency by obliging local authorities to make test results and infringements publicly available.

European Health Commissioner John Dalli said on Monday he wanted to develop new rules to regulate the production of fatty acids used in animal feed.

Gerd Sonnleitner, head of the powerful Bauernverband farmers' association, estimated losses so far at around 100 million euros (135 million dollars) and said that egg and pork prices have slumped 30 percent since the scare.

A group of some 20 farmers, bringing with them around the same number of pigs, held a demonstration outside Chancellor Angela Merkel's offices in Berlin on Wednesday calling for a return to smaller scale agriculture.

"We've come to show we are here, that we want to remain independent farmers and produce healthy food with respect for nature and sustainable development," said one farmer.

"And, in particular, to not go for quick profits like agribusiness does today. That is what the government needs to understand."

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