Many animals may have eaten tainted feed in Germany
HAMBURG - Hundreds of thousands of animals may have eaten animal feed contaminated with a hazardous chemical, German Farm Minister Renate Kuenast said yesterday.
German authorities are investigating allegations that a feed manufacturer in Lower Saxony produced feed containing the banned pesticide nitrofen, which may cause cancer.
Feed was delivered to some 120 farms producing chickens, eggs and other poultry using ecological farming methods.
Much of the poultry meat has entered the food chain, officials said.
Kuenast told a news conference on German television that authorities still do not know how much affected organic meat had gone on sale or how many animals had received tainted feed.
But in the east German state of Mecklenburg Vorpommern alone it could involve \"hundreds of thousands\" of animals, Kuenast said.
Authorities confirmed on Monday that about 100 tonnes of contaminated poultry meal had been produced.
Kuenast said authorities now believed about 550 tonnes had been sold, possibly knowingly, by the feed producer. The company\'s own books showed it had found 31 cases of nitrofen in its production between November 2001 and May 2002, she said.
Until now investigations had only involved organic animal feed, but Kuenast said conventional animal feed would also be investigated.
Kunast said it was still not known how nitrofen got into feed wheat.
All the farms involved have been ordered to stop sales.
The scandal came to light when a turkey farm in Lower Saxony called state authorities on Friday and told them it had produced meat containing nitrofen after using the feed.
Authorities impounded 230 tonnes of turkey meat which was scheduled to be exported to Russia. State prosecutors are investigating.
Officials said yesterday the Federal Agriculture Ministry is investigating allegations that food processors had found that meat and eggs had tested positive for nitrofen, but failed to inform authorities.
\"We will now seek a tightening of regulations to oblige companies which find dangerous substances during private testing to tell the authorities,\" a Federal Agriculture Ministry sokeswoman said.
\"This is currently not the case. Such test results are technically private property.\"
The federal ministry yesterday called an urgent meeting of ecological food producers to see what short-term and voluntary action could be taken to improve inspection procedures.
Story by Michael Hogan
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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