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Tuesday, 23 August, 2011, 3:20 ( 1:20 GMT )
Germany closes 4,700 farms as dioxin crisis widens
11/01/2011 17:52:00
A food crisis in Germany deepened Friday as around 4,700 farms were closed after tests showed animal feed was contaminated by a cancer-causing chemical, and officials said they suspected foul play.

Fears also grew that the contamination could have entered the food chain earlier than thought, as tests on animal fats at the firm at the centre of the scandal reportedly showed they were tainted as far back as last March.

A spokesman for Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner told a news conference Friday that "4,709 farms and businesses are currently closed," including 4,468 in the state of Lower Saxony, northwest Germany.

The farms will be closed until they are found to be clear of contamination with dioxin, a toxic chemical compound that can cause cancer if ingested in large doses, and will not be allowed to make any deliveries, spokesman Holger Eichele said.

Nearly all types of farms, especially those rearing pigs, have been affected by the closures in eight of Germany's 16 states, the agriculture ministry said. There are around 375,000 farms in Germany.

The firm Harles und Jentzsch in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein is alleged to have supplied up to 3,000 tonnes of contaminated fatty acids meant only for industrial use to around 25 animal feed makers.

Most of this -- 2,500 tonnes -- was delivered in November and December to animal feed producers in Lower Saxony, where it was used in fodder. AFP
 
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