February 1, 2006


More northern European farms closed on dioxin fears


The European Commission said Tuesday over 600 pig and chicken farms in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany were temporarily shut after traces of a carcinogenic chemical were found in animal feed.


Authorities in the three countries were currently tracing the chain of dioxins and would withdraw products if it became clear tainted meat had reached the market, said European Union spokesman Philip Tod.


The Belgian food safety agency said tainted hydrochloric acid, used in the production of animal feed at a Belgian plant, had caused the contamination. The fat is mixed with other feed for the livestock industry.


The EU head office said 396 farms were closed in Belgium, 215 in the Netherlands and six in Germany.


The Belgian food safety agency closed 300 more farms Monday to add to the 96 pig and chicken farms it shut down Friday.


Seven years ago, a dioxin crisis led to the slaughter of millions of chickens and thousands of pigs in Belgium. The agency said levels of contamination were far below the levels found in 1999, when dioxins entered the human food chain through contaminated animal feed.


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