Germany: the dioxin scandal is very serious but the danger for consumers according to Bfr is minimal

Germany: the dioxin scandal is very serious but the danger for consumers according to Bfr is minimal

Almost a thousand chicken, turkey and pig farms are under special surveillance, 8,000 laying hens already culled. A food safety crisis due to dioxin contamination upsets Germany which on December 27th informed the member countries through the European rapid alert system (Rasff). At the origin of the contamination there are 25-27 tons of oils coming from a bio-diesel factory and used in the production of feed (link  Focus ).

“Pet food manufacturer Harles & Jentzsch has supplied feed using an oil that should never be used in the food supply chain,” Spiegel reports  . The feeder allegedly tried to transfer the responsibility to his supplier, Petrotec, who would have replied that  “in all supply contracts, delivery notes and invoices it is specified that greases are only intended for technical uses and never for food use”. According to the analyzes, the oils in question have an average dioxin content of 123 nano-grams per kilo. Since the contaminant has been introduced into the food chain, the eggs of hens fed the offending feed have 16 nano-grams of dioxin per kilo, four times the limit allowed in the European Union.

The authorities therefore subjected every farm in Germany that purchased feed from the supplier under investigation to a “sweep” analysis, ordering the culling of all animals if the maximum tolerated levels of dioxins were exceeded. The German agricultural associations are complaining of damages of several million euros. Health authorities will also have to tackle the problem of ‘downstream’ traceability of risky eggs already placed on the German market. Dioxin, remember, does not present immediate health risks for consumers (e.g. poisoning, intoxication): it is instead a substance that tends to settle in the body and is suspected of carcinogenicity in the case of repeated and prolonged consumption (link Süddeutsche Zeitung). Another problem concerns the assessment of the risk of a person who has eaten eggs containing dioxins.

In this regard   , a document on the risk of consumers who have eaten dioxin-contaminated eggs was published in May 2010 (in unsuspected times) by the German food safety agency (BfR) (the opinion was provided in response to a similar case recorded in the European alert system (Rasff) on batches of eggs with a quantity of dioxin greater than 3 picograms).

The conclusions of the document are very clear. “The dioxin concentration found does not cause an acute pathology for the health of citizens. Consuming contaminated eggs for a short time has no adverse health effects. This does not mean that contaminants such as dioxin and PCBs must still be present in quantities as low as possible in food, and any unnecessary or additional exposure must be avoided “.

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