More than a quarter of a million chicken eggs are being recalled in Germany after in-house testing discovered “excessive levels” of the poisonous chemical, dioxin.
The contamination has so far been detected at just one farm in the Emsland area of Lower Saxony. The farm has been closed and its 12,000 chickens have been quarantined.
Authorities have established so far that around 268,000 eggs were distributed from the farm in question to seven German states including Lower Saxony. There have been no reports to date of the dioxin-contaminated eggs in any other countries.
In January 2011, authorities in Germany issued a European Union-wide health alert after it emerged that feed contaminated with dioxin had been fed to hens and pigs.
Natasha Manski, spokesperson for the state of Lower Saxony, told FoodQualityNews.com that contaminated feed is one option being considered as the source. It is also examining whether the contamination could have originated in the area surrounding the farm.
“Right now we are searching for a reason for the contamination. We have taken samples from the animal and other materials on the farm,” said Manski.
Authorities have so far tested animal feed and other materials found on the farm.
In January 2011, around 3,000 tonnes of animal fed tainted with industrial fats containing the toxic chemical were shipped to farms across Germany – leading to the contamination of eggs, poultry meat and pork.
The contamination led to the temporary closure of hundreds of farms and the cull of thousands of animals.
Authorities have refused to rule out that tainted feed could be the cause in this case.
“It is option. We have taken samples of the food. But the next step we will be taking will be to take a closer look at the area surrounding the farm,” added Manski.
“The focus is on research and examination to find the original problem.”
No immediate health risk
Manski added that the contamination was discovered as a result of controls put in place after the January 2011 dioxin scandal in Germany.
Despite the recall, authorities in the country have reiterated that the potentially contaminated eggs pose no serious risk to the public because dioxin is only dangerous if consumed over long periods of time.
According to a government recall notification, there is no “immediate health risk from eating the contaminated eggs.”