Dioxin in organic eggs: causes still unknown

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Dixion in organic eggs: feed was not contaminated

Authorities are working intensively on the causes of dioxin contamination in organic eggs from producers in North Rhine-Westphalia. How the poison got into the eggs is still completely unclear. One thing is certain: the feed was not to blame, as further test results have proven.

So far, feed has not been a source of contamination
The search for the causes of the dioxin finds in chicken eggs from North Rhine-Westphalia continues. Contaminated feed is often responsible for the contamination. However, according to the Ministry of Consumer Protection, this option is becoming increasingly unlikely. To date, laboratory technicians have examined further feed samples from the blocked egg producers in East Westphalia and two smaller Duisburger Höfe. After the first samples were already negative, further analyzes could not find any limit violations in the chicken feed, as a spokesman for the ministry reports.

Water and soil are examined
The investigators of the Chemical Veterinary and Examination Office in Duisburg are now focusing on soils and water. Experts from the authority took samples of the floor coverings, soil and the water system at the weekend. In addition, other eggs were taken for examination purposes. The investigation office also checks whether the companies and the responsible private laboratories have complied with their reporting obligations or whether there are reporting violations. It is suspected that contaminated eggs could have been delivered in advance.

Dioxin finds have been known since mid-March
Authorities had already discovered the dioxin-like chemical substance PCB (polychlorinated biphenyls) in the eggs of a large organic company in North Rhine-Westphalia during a routine check in mid-March. According to a message from the North Rhine-Westphalian Ministry of Consumer Protection, the laying hens in the organic farm produce around 25,000 eggs a day. The organic eggs are primarily sent to supermarkets and grocery stores. In all likelihood, eggs have come onto the market, which is why health authorities have warned against eating the eggs with the stamp number 0-DE-0521041. Consumers who still store eggs in their refrigerator with the specified labels should "not eat them, but dispose of them immediately," said a spokesman for the health authorities. Dioxin has a high half-life in the human body because the toxin accumulates in the fat cells. As a long-term consequence, cancer and neurological damage can occur. Although determined values ​​are above the limit value, the offices currently do not assume an acute danger to the population. Other experts generally assume a relative health risk from dioxin eggs.

Two other small businesses are also affected
The authorities were concerned to find that two other farms were also affected. Testers had also found increased levels of dioxins in the eggs in an organic farm and in a learning and children's farm. The permissible limit values ​​were exceeded four times, as a spokesman for the Ministry of Consumer Protection said on Thursday. The city administration of Duisburg, on the other hand, speaks of a double exceeding of the limit value. The ministry had sharply criticized the city because the courtyards were not closed immediately after the first discovery.

Labeling errors resulted in the delivery of additional eggs
At first, consumer advocates assumed that the eggs were last delivered on March 7th and had long since been on the market. The company had announced that the specified time was the last date of manufacture. A little later, however, the company had to admit that eggs contaminated by a labeling error were also delivered afterwards. This means that a number of consumers have now very likely consumed contaminated eggs.

A few days ago, a company in Euskirchen also announced that it had stored contaminated eggs. The company had yours from the large company in East Westphalia-Lippe. Contrary to previous official announcements, the eggs could also have the best-before date "April 8", as a spokesman for the egg farm announced "Hennes GmbH". So far, eggs with the best-before date "March 31" have always been warned. According to the examination by the Chemical and Veterinary Investigation Office Münsterland-Emscher-Lippe (CVUA), "no exceeding of the maximum value of dioxin-like PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) could be found in the three egg samples of the conventional farm area". Although the eggs show loads, they are "typical for hen's eggs with ubiquitous background loads". In addition, the characteristic dioxin and PCB profile already found in the "contaminated egg samples could not be detected in the new samples".

All businesses blocked until further notice
The affected businesses have all been blocked and are not allowed to deliver eggs until further notice. Until the reason for crossing the border has been found, the courtyards may no longer be opened for sales. A connection between the three companies has not yet been determined. External influences such as environmental pollution from neighboring industries are also examined.

Meanwhile, NRW Consumer Protection Minister Johannes Remmel has spoken out against "softening the maximum dioxin levels". "Dioxin and other pollutants have no place in food," said the minister. It is therefore the duty of the manufacturers to minimize the pollution. In addition, it is not the task of the politicians to "design the limit values ​​as certain lobby groups would like", criticized Remmel. The minister is therefore calling on the food and food industry to make greater efforts to combat dioxin pollution. "The associations should concentrate their strength on ensuring that food is not contaminated with pollutants - and not on softening limit values ​​at the expense of consumers." (sb)

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