Last summer’s recall of more than 550 million eggs contaminated with Salmonella was the largest in US history and most likely the largest ever in the world. While we still hold the dubious title of most eggs recalled because of bacterial contamination, Germany is dealing with an egg recall because of chemical contamination.
The eggs were the products of chickens given feed contaminated with dioxin, type of hydrocarbon and by-product of burning rubbish and industrial activities. Dioxin can cause illness to human beings, including cancer and miscarriages.
Potentially contaminated eggs that have caused a health scare in Germany were also exported to the Netherlands, the government said on Wednesday after the European Commission asked for more information.
A total of 136,000 eggs were delivered to a firm in the Netherlands from the eastern German state of Saxony-Anhalt, and the Dutch firm has been informed, a spokesman for the agriculture ministry told reporters.
This amount compares to a total annual production of more than 10 billion eggs in Germany, authorities say.
“The EU Commission was informed. We are not aware of any other deliveries to other (European Union) member states,” spokesman Holger Eichele told a regular government briefing.
A firm in northern Germany is alleged to have supplied around 3,000 tonnes of a suspect ingredient to around 25 makers of animal feed in five of Germany’s 16 states, including Saxony-Anhalt, Eichele said.
The feed containing the ingredient was then delivered to farms with chickens and other animals in eight states. Eichele said there were no indications that the suspect ingredient or any potentially tainted feed was exported.
The scare has resulted in more than 1,000 farms in the north-western state of Lower Saxony alone being told to stop production. There are around 375,000 farms in Germany.
Update: Jan. 8 – Operations at 4,700 German farms have been closed and thousands of hens culled to prevent food supplies from becoming contaminated. More than 8,000 chickens were ordered slaughtered. Read the details here.