Germany contamination scandal hits pigs

Hundreds of pigs have been
slaughtered in Germany after tests showed high levels of a cancer-causing
chemical for the first time in swine, as the nation’s dioxin scandal widened
beyond poultry and eggs.

The top agriculture official in
northern Germany’s Lower Saxony state demanded the cull after tests found
illegal levels of dioxin in swine at a farm near Verden that purchased tainted
feed from the company believed to be responsible for the scandal.

German firm Harles & Jentzsch
GmbH, which produced fat used in the tainted feed pellets, is being
investigated over allegations it did not alert authorities to the tainted
product for months.

Tests have shown that fat samples
contained more than 70 times the permitted amount of dioxin.

The scandal broke last week when
German investigators found excessive levels of dioxin in eggs and some chicken

Authorities then froze sales of
poultry, eggs and, as a precaution, pork, from thousands of farms as some
countries banned German farm products and British supermarkets pulled tainted
quiches, cakes and other products with eggs from their shelves.

Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner
has said officials were working nonstop to find out who and what had
contaminated the feed and vowed tough legal action against those responsible.

 She said companies should be banned from
producing both industrial fats and fats used for livestock, to avoid the
possibility that industrial fats could end up in animal feed.

She also vowed to propose tighter
controls on dioxin monitoring.

Harles & Jentzsch chief
Siegfried Sievert has said the company believed that by-products from palm, soy
and rapeseed oil used to make organic diesel fuels were safe for use in livestock