AMSTERDAM - France and Spain were hit this week
by a dioxin contamination scare that has forced the closure of
almost 200 Dutch farms after the cancer-causing toxin was found
in animal feed.
The European Commission and officials in the Netherlands,
Germany and Belgium, where contamination was previously found,
have ruled out serious risk to public health but farms have been
shut pending the outcome of tests.
The Dutch agriculture ministry said in a statement
two cows from one of the contaminated Dutch farms were exported
It also said German-made clay which is used for
sorting potatoes for animal feed, and which has been found to
be contaminated with dioxin, has shown up in France as well as
in Belgium, where it was known to have been exported.
But the French farm ministry said it had not yet
been made aware of any spread of the dioxin scare to France, either
by the European Commission or the Dutch government.
"The most urgent question which we are working
on is to know whether some animals have left the Netherlands for
France," a ministry spokesman said. "At this stage we
still don't have an answer to that."
Officials said last week that contaminated animal
feed, made of potato peelings, had been bought by hundreds of
Dutch cattle, pig, sheep and goat farms and shipped to Germany
The dioxin outbreak has led to the temporary closure
of a total of 197 Dutch farms, eight farms in Belgium and four
in Germany. Authorities are still examining the feed and animals
and any impact on the food chain, such as in meat and milk.
The results of eight samples of pork from some of
the affected Dutch farms proved negative this week but authorities
said all farms involved will remain closed until all necessary
tests are completed.
Earlier Dutch results have shown contaminated milk
at only two of the farms.
The contaminated animal feed found last week was
from the Dutch factories of privately held Canadian potato chip
maker McCain, which has halted feed sales.
"New research has shown high concentrations
of dioxin in peels from another Dutch potato company. This has
led to closure of another 76 livestock farms (this week), which
had bought contaminated feed," the Dutch farm ministry said.
It added that contaminated German clay was purchased by a total
of 10 Dutch companies and also sold to Belgium and France. The
ministry refused to name the companies.
The ministry revised once again the number of farms
it closed in the Netherlands last week to 121 from 162, saying
it miscalculated the total because of the type of animals they