The state of Lower Saxony in Germany today released just under 3,000 farms that were locked because they were suspected to have been supplied with dioxin contaminated feed.
The Ministry of Agriculture of Lower Saxony in Hanover said in a statement it had managed to identify the companies, "which food products to the current knowledge, certainly not pose a risk to the consumer."
Of the first of about 4,400 farms that have been locked "1,470 establishments remain closed." The Ministry will continue working on it and "clarify the situation for the not yet released companies as quickly as possible."
At the height of the scandal nationwide in Germany more than 4,700 companies had been locked, the vast majority of them located in Lower Saxony.
For the contamination of animal feed with dioxin residues Schleswig-Holstein fat supplier Harles and Jentzsch is thought to be responsible. The company is suspected of mixing cheap technical fats into more expensive dietary fats for use in animal feeds.
New dioxin findings always fuel the debate over consumer protection in Germany. Increasingly, the responsibility of the federal government comes into focus.
In the current dioxin scandal Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner, demanded a crackdown against criminal food manufacturers. “It cannot be denied that here a strong suspicion of criminal activity is paired with startling lack of scruples," she said. A few" black sheep” had caused enormous damage.
The consumer organization Food Watch, however, accuses the government of serious omissions and unilateral operation in the interests of the animal feed industry.
The government does not want to endanger the export of meat products and had therefore no interest in stronger charging the feed industry, said Food Watch chief Thilo Bode.
He complains that there are too few governmental controls of the 1700 feed companies in Germany.
No end seen yet
Aigner sees no end to the dioxin danger: "To give a general all-clear would be premature. A key priority must be to ensure that contaminated feed is tracked and contaminated products do not get into the food chain. The polluter must pay for the damage.
In samples of three laying hens from North Rhine-Westphalia, the allowable limit, according to authorities, has been exceeded by 2.5 times. Tests in broilers, turkeys and pigs have so far not exceeded maximum limits, many results are pending.
Today the results are to be released from another 112 samples of feed fat from Harles and Jentzsch. The first results for meat samples are also expected.
Feed fat meeting
European feed fat producers toady meet at a crisis meeting with the EU Commission. Minister Aigner has also invited representatives of farmers, feed industry and consumer associations.
Meanwhile new allegations are to be raised against Harles and Jentzsch on the suspicion of fraud and tax evasion according to the Lower Saxony's Ministry of Agriculture.