• Germany's news in English

Dioxin contamination 77 times safe level

The Local · 7 Jan 2011, 16:26

Published: 07 Jan 2011 08:52 GMT+01:00
Updated: 07 Jan 2011 16:26 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Tests had shown that fats produced by the feed company Harles & Jentzsch and used to enrich animal feed contained up to 58.17 nanogrammes of dioxin per kilogrammes, the Agriculture Minister in the state of Schleswig-Holstein announced. The acceptable limit is 0.75 nanogrammes.

The astonishingly high contamination level was found among the first 30 samples. Authorities still have another 88 samples to test. Of the first 30 tested, just 12 measured below the safe limit.

"The first indications point to a high level of illegal activity," a spokesman for Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner told a regular news conference on Friday.

But Siegfried Sievert, chief executive officer of Harles & Jentzsch told Spiegel TV he did not know where the high levels of dioxins originated.

"We did not use any fats that were not permitted," he said. "We are conducting tests, we are working closely with the authorities. We have been taken completely unaware," he added.

The firm, based in the Schleswig-Holstein town of Uetersen, has supplied about 3,000 tonnes of fats believed contaminated by the toxic chemical dioxin to other animal feed manufacturers in several states.

Authorities announced Monday they had begun closing down farms around the country out of fears that the dangerous contaminant dioxin may have found its way into eggs, poultry meat and pork via tainted animal feed.

The firm has admitted it was “careless” in mixing fatty acids meant only for industrial use into animal feed, leaving that feed potentially contaminated with the harmful chemical dioxin.

Also on Friday, a media report said Harles & Jentzsch had known for at least nine months that its products were tainted.

A self-assessment showed positive results for unacceptable levels of dioxin on March 19, last year but was not reported to authorities, daily Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung reported.

This test report, conducted by a private laboratory, was seized by authorities on December 29 and has been passed on to the state prosecutor.

The Agriculture Minister in Kiel, Schleswig-Holstein – the state where the suspect firm, Harles & Jentzsch, is situated – confirmed the information.

It means that contaminated products have been sold and used for nearly 10 months. It was only on December 27 that authorities became aware that contamination was occurring, a spokesman for Schleswig-Holstein Agriculture Minister Juliane Rumpf said.

There were also noticeable problems with the firm after the March 2010 self-monitoring, the minister’s spokesman said.

Other firms are also implicated in the scandal. The Lower Saxony firm Wulfa-Mast from the town of Dinklage actually sparked the first concerns about the industry when it submitted an amended self-assessment return on December 23. Now it has emerged that the firm knew a month earlier of the contamination in a batch of mixed fats. Their lab results had been received on November 27.

“Apparently, Wulfa-Mast wanted to avoid damage to their own company at the expense of farmers and consumers,” Lower Saxony Agriculture state secretary Friedrich-Otto Ripke told the Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung.

Story continues below…

Daily Westfalen-Blatt meanwhile reported that a report from the Lower Saxony Agriculture Minister stated that the transport firm Lübbe, based in Bösel, had stored and mixed fatty acids without approval. Their manufacture of the products was therefore illegal, ministry spokesman Gert Hahne told the paper.

Because the firm was registered as a transport company only, there had been no oversight of its animal feed products.

There was the suspicion that Harles & Jentzsch had used the transport firm to avoid monitoring of its own production, Hahne told the paper. Fatty acids contaminated with dioxin were then supplied from Bösel to animal feed manufacturers around the country.

The number of farms and agriculture firms affected by the scandal has meanwhile continued to grow. The federal Consumer Ministry said that 4,709 farms and businesses had now been closed as a precaution. The majority are in Lower Saxony, where 4,468 farms and businesses have been shut down.

DAPD/The Local/AFP/djw/mry

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

12:29 January 7, 2011 by discovering
15:37 January 7, 2011 by Dlocal
wait until people realize those eggs were used to make Pizza, Pasta or may be BIO-pasta,

cakes, biscuits , cookies and ....other packed stuff ...........with expiry date 2012....eat it or get back to the store for refund!!!
17:18 January 7, 2011 by furious_angel
rightly pointed out Dlocal. I was also thinking abt the same. eggs are used as an ingredient in so many of our food products... i havent made a pizza myself so dont know how many eggs go into one pizza! but i guess not more than one.

on a different note, is there some way to test people who have been eating products from these companies to check for dioxin levels? one company has been "careless" since March 2010...
20:20 January 7, 2011 by XFYRCHIEF
@Pas -

Of course, if the dioxin was in food products from another country, Germany would accept them without hesitation.

And where did you get the information that the levels were not harmful? I didn't see that in this story. From what I know about dioxins, they have both a carcinogenic and teratogenic potential - something I would rather not take a chance with.
21:51 January 7, 2011 by DinhoPilot

If you are not worried about it then we can donate the all stock of eggs and contaminated chicken! Imagine, you will have chicken and egg supply for all your life. And since the level is low it you won't have any health problem.

Great ;)
17:48 January 8, 2011 by Pas
Erm , it will go off.

All I am pointing out is that after an event like this there is always an irrational round of worry followed by people settling back into rational patterns.

How many people have died of mad cow disease?

As I pointed out, people smoke and I have little doubt that will cause them way more harm that eating this chicken. How many chickens have died so far?
14:37 January 9, 2011 by XFYRCHIEF
@Pas -

I will agree with you regarding the irrational reaction to such news. I remember the Alara apple scare here in the U.S. some years ago. But smoking is a conscious choice by an informed user, a little different than this. Also, dioxins accumulate in fatty tissue and can concentrate to a harmful level.

If you choose to eat contaminated products, then, by all means, do so. But at levels 77X the allowable level, I'd take a pass, thank you.
15:40 January 10, 2011 by Pas
But you're not eating the chicken feed. Or I hope not. What is the percentage in the things being banned?
Today's headlines
Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German town, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd