The German cabinet on Wednesday approved the first in a series of measures aimed at raising standards in the animal feed industry following the discovery of the toxic chemical dioxin in feed, which led to a health alert.
The cabinet approved a new rule that puts an extra responsibility on private laboratories to report suspect tests of food or animal feed to the authorities, the Agriculture Ministry said.
Animal feed and food firms must themselves also notify authorities of any suspect dioxin or finds of other dangerous substances in their products. This will enable creation of an early-warning system of contamination, the ministry said.
German and European Union authorities are dealing with an alert, which began on Jan. 3 when German officials said feed tainted with dioxin had been fed to hens and pigs, contaminating eggs, poultry meat and pork at affected farms. Sales of eggs, chicken and pork dropped sharply.
Prosecutors in Germany are investigating the cause of the contamination and specifically whether industrial fats and feeds company Harles and Jentzsch distributed fatty acids meant for industrial paper production to animal feed processors.
Germany's government on Jan. 19 announced a package of measures to raise animal feed production standards, which are now being put into action at maximum speed, German Farm Minister Ilse Aigner said on Wednesday.
The next stage will be the announcement of a licensing system for makers of oils and fats for animal feed use, she said.
New regulations are also being prepared to compel the separation of production of fats and oils for industrial uses from uses in animal feed.
Russia last week banned poultry meat imports from Germany because of the dioxin alert.