Germany Finds Dioxin Contamination in Feed

In late 2010, pig and poultry feed in Germany was found to contain dioxins above the European legal limits due to feed manufacturer Harles and Jentzsch, of Uetersen, Germany, using mixed fatty acids intended for technical purposes in feeding fats. Harles and Jentzsch also produces fats for technical purposes, such as paper processing.

The mixed fatty acids were sourced from biodiesel manufacturer Petrotec’s Emden, Germany, facility. The source for the dioxin contamination is not yet known. German authorities are currently conducting an investigation to determine how the contaminated fatty acids were mixed with the vegetable feed fat, since the fatty acids were not supposed to be used in the production of feed fat.

According to a report by the European Commission Health and Consumers Directorate-General, approximately 3,000 metric tons of feed fat was manufactured from 175 metric tons of mixed fatty acids and mixed into compound feed for laying hens, poultry, cattle, and pigs at a level of between two and 10 percent. Twenty-five compound feed manufacturers in several German states received the feed. There were no deliveries of feed fat to other member states and third countries.

The report stated that more than 1,000 farms had received suspect compound feed in several German states. German authorities identified these farms and, as a precaution, imposed restrictions on all farms.

Tests on eggs and poultry meat from these farms showed increased dioxin levels. In some cases, dioxin in eggs exceeded the maximum level permitted by European Union (EU) law up to four times, forcing German authorities to recall eggs from laying hen farms that were supplied with contaminated feed. In North Rhine Westphalia, 8,000 laying hens from an affected farm were culled and destroyed.

As of press time, reports were circulating that Germany’s meat safety authority confirmed samples of pork taken at a pig farm in Germany’s Lower Saxony region exceeded the permitted level of dioxin in meat fat. Nearly 150 animals from this farm had been slaughtered. Officials were tracing other animals from the affected farm, and from other farms supplied by the feed mill believed to have received the bulk of the contaminated fatty acids.

In response to this incident, the European Compound Feed Manufacturers’ Federation, or FEFAC, announced a “two pillar” action plan to tackle dioxin contamination risks linked to the feed fat supply chain. The plan includes development of a testing protocol for a structured dioxin monitoring plan of the feed fat supply chain at EU level by the end of January 2011. The second pillar would review the registration process for fat blending businesses under the EU Feed Hygiene Regulation (EC) No. 183/2005.

FEFAC President Patrick Vanden Avenne stated, “Although the German authorities consider fraud at the fat blending plant which mixed technical fats in feed fats as the most plausible road of the contamination, we, as customers, must take all necessary and effective action which can help prevent such incidents in the future. In our view, this would require a combination of an industry-own structured monitoring plan and specific legal requirements for the approval of fat blending plants, which currently only have to be registered under the EU Feed Hygiene Regulation.” FEFAC had already requested in 2009, after an Irish dioxin contamination that occurred at a food waste recycling plant, that all premises having a separate “non-feed” related activity on the same site must be seen as high-risk plants and controlled accordingly.

The European compound feed industry has, for many years, implemented extensive, risk-based dioxin monitoring plans at member state level. FEFAC estimates that in total 25,000 samples are taken every year for dioxin and PCB testing, both at the feed material and compound feed level.

February 2011 RENDER | back