On 27 December 2010, the German authorities informed the European Commission's Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) that a batch of fatty acids, which was meant to be used for technical purposes, got mixed with fat for the production of feed. The batch of fatty acids was produced in a biodiesel company and was delivered to a feed fat producing company and contained higher levels of dioxin than allowed by EU law. Both companies are located in Germany.
Commissioner Dalli made the following statements and speeches in relation to the contamination incident in Germany:
Statement by Commissioner Dalli on the dioxin incident in Germany (6 January 2011)
"The proper management of the dioxin incident in Germany is of utmost importance for the Commission and must be pursued with urgency and effectiveness. I have contacted this afternoon Mrs Ilse Aigner, German Federal minister for Food, Agriculture & Consumer Protection and was given the latest state of play of the situation. My services and the German authorities are in permanent contact and the level of cooperation is very good. The Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed as well as the traceability mechanisms in place at EU level have shown their effectiveness. In the coming weeks, I will explore with our EU partners and stakeholders ways to further strengthen our monitoring processes of dioxin in feed."
For further information please see MEMO/11/8
Speech by Commissioner Dalli (17 January 2011)
Commissioner Dalli gave a speech on 17 January 2011 in the EP plenary in Strasbourg. The text of the speech can be found here. In the speech the Commissioner gives an overview of the contamination incident, highlighting the good co-operation between the Commission and the German authorities and providing an outlook on the measures which could be envisaged at EU level to further improve the EU feed and food safety system.
Speech by Commissioner Dalli (24 January 2011)
The text of the speech that Commissioner Dalli gave during the Agriculture Council meeting of 24 January 2011 can be found here.
A closing information note on the contamination incident can be found here.
Since the feed had higher levels of dioxin than those permitted by EU law measures to protect the health of the public were taken by the respective authorities.
Following investigations by the German authorities, it turned out that another seven suspected batches of fatty acids from the same biodiesel company were delivered to the feed fat company. For precautionary reasons, and pending the outcome of laboratory testing for the presence of dioxin, all feed fat produced at the feed fat company from 12 November 2010 onwards is considered as being potentially contaminated. The potentially contaminated feed fat was delivered to 25 compound feed manufacturers in Germany. There were no deliveries of potentially contaminated feed fat outside Germany.
Compound feed produced with the potentially contaminated feed fat was delivered to laying hen, fattening poultry, pig, dairy cattle and bovine farms, mainly in Germany but also few batches of feed for breeding poultry to Denmark and France. The contaminated feed to Denmark was fed to breeder hens that have not entered the food chain. The compound feed sent to France was compliant with EU legislation (levels signifcantly below the EU maximum level).
On 2 March 2011, no holdings remained under restriction by the German authorities. There were initially 4,760 potentially affected farms in Germany, but by Friday 14 January 2011 this number had already dropped to 316 farms given the analytical results and/or investigations conducted. However, on 14 January, following further intensive investigations, the German authorities blocked an additional number of holdings by way of precaution. Restrictions on these holdings will be lifted once the investigations and the analytical results indicate that there is no risk to public health.
The consequences of trade of potentially contaminated products is also being addressed. More specific info can be found at the links below.
The Commission maintained constant contact with the German authorities and the other Member States during this event. It has also held meetings with industry representatives to see what can be done to prevent such an incident from happening again.
An update of the contamination incident was provided by the German authorities during several meetings of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCFCAH):
- 11 January 2011 - Section Animal Health & Welfare, Controls and Import Conditions. The presentation given by the German authorities can be found here
- 18/19 January 2011 - Section Biological Safety of the Food Chain. The presentation given by the German authorities can be found here
- 20/21 January 2011 - Section Animal Nutrition. The presentation given by the German authorities can be found here
- 24 January 2011 - Section Toxicological Safety of the Food Chain. The presentation given by the German authorities can be found here.
On the initiative of Commissioner Dalli and with the full cooperation of the German Federal and Lander authorities, a fact-finding mission of the Commission inspection service of the Health and Consumers Directorate General, DG SANCO, (FVO - Food and Veterinary Office, located in Grange - Ireland) took place in Germany from 26 – 28 January 2011. The three person mission team held extensive discussions with the State authorities of Schleslig-Holstein, where the blender at the origin of the incident is located, and with the State authorities of Niedersachsen, where most of the affected feed mills and farms are located. In Niedersachen, the team also met authorities at district level, which are responsible for the implementation of the risk-management measures undertaken, and visited feed mills and farms which have been in receipt of contaminated fat and/or feed. The outcome of the mission will be discussed with the Member State authorities. While it is at this time premature to disclose the detailed findings, which will require the assessment of a large body of data, the mission team did not find any deficiencies which call into question the effectiveness of the corrective measures taken by the German authorities to tackle the contamination. These measures, which involved very significant resources, were found to be carried out in a professional and competent manner. Instead, the findings of the mission team will serve as input to the follow-up actions announced by Commissioner Dalli aimed at avoiding in future such contaminations
The final report of the FVO mission carried out in Germany can be found here.
The Member States, meeting in the frame of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health on 22 February 2011 endorsed a statement recognizing that the the German authorities have been managing the contamination incident very efficiently and that they adopted a very strict precautionary approach to manage this incident in view of providing a high level of feed and food safety and that the contamination incident is fully under control by the German authorities and there is no risk that potentially contaminated food and feed are placed on the EU market or dispatched to Third countries.
Further information concerning:
Further information on the contamination incident can be found via the following links:
German Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMELV).
Information on the investigations in the Netherlands can be found here.
Information on the investigations in the UK can be found here.
Information on the investigations in Denmark can be found here.
Information on the investigations in France can be found here.
Information on the investigations in Poland can be found here.
Information on the investigations in the Czech Republic can be found here.