Monday

24th Sep 2018

Focus

China bans German pork, egg imports over dioxin scare

  • China wants to protect its consumers from the German dioxins (Photo: Proggie)

China on Wednesday (12 January) suspended all pork and egg imports from Germany, after German authorities found that dioxin-contaminated animal food had been used in pig and poultry farms.

Chinese firms were told to immediately halt imports of all "German-produced edible pork and egg products", China's product safety watchdog said, ordering inspections on goods imported from Germany before Tuesday.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The move came after German authorities ordered the slaughter of 140 pigs at a farm in Lower Saxony following the discovery of dangerous dioxin levels in pork. Dioxin is a toxic substance which, if assimilated in high doses, can cause cancer and miscarriages.

So far, only South Korea has banned German egg and pork imports, while Hong Kong said that all incoming pork and pork products from Germany would be held for examination and only put on sale if they were safe to eat.

The scare began last week when it emerged that a German firm, Harles und Jentzsch, had mixed industrial fat destined for bio-fuel production with oils used by animal feed producers and sold some 3,000 tonnes of it. Tests on animal food produced with the illegal fatty cocktail found levels of dioxin - a by-product of industrial combustion - at 77 times the admissible limit.

German authorities destroyed some 100,000 eggs last week and shut down 4,700 farms, most of which were cleared after tests. Another 136,000 eggs meanwhile were exported to the Netherlands, some of which ended up in Britain.

The contamination of pig meat is taking the scandal to another level, however, as two thirds of all the meat consumed in Germany is pork and officials cannot rule out that tainted products have been sold in supermarkets before the discovery.

"This is a scandal that is growing bigger and worse every day," Johannes Remmel, agriculture minister in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily.

There are also indications that Harles und Jentzsch has been selling the contaminated fatty acids since last March, a Schleswig-Holstein agriculture ministry spokesman told Westfalen-Blatt daily.

The company is under investigation for criminal activities and filed for insolvency on Wednesday, a spokeswoman for the regional court in the western town of Itzehoe said.

Pressured to resign over the scandal, German agriculture minister Ilse Aigner on Wednesday defended herself and said she was working on an "action plan" to be discussed with regional agriculture officials before briefing EU officials in Brussels on 24 January.

"This dioxin case will not be without consequences," she told reporters.

Her comments come after EU officials said they had a "disappointing" meeting with industry representatives, because no proposals were put on the table to prevent further contamination in the future. The EU commission wants to usher in a system which strictly divides fats for industrial use and those used in food production.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, the leader of the centre-right European People's Party in the EU legislature, Joseph Daul - himself a farmer - said that it was "unacceptable" not to have the two processes separated and that similar "accidents" would continue to happen unless the EU puts in place proper restrictions.

Magazine

No end in sight to Russia pork ban

Russia's ban on EU pork exports is costing farmers €1.4 billion a year, but reorienting sales to China might be a better bet than banking on WTO arbitration or a political detente to get the income flowing again.

China urges Germany and France to solve euro-crisis

Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao on Thursday offered vague promises to buy bonds from troubled euro-countries, but said that it is ultimately up to Germany and France to solve the crisis.

Agenda

Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK

The EU will be watching closely how the political dynamics of Theresa May's Conservative party conference starting next week will influence Brexit negotiations. MEPs might also be forced to release their office expenses.

Feature

Sound of discord at 'Sound of Music' Salzburg summit

Decisions in the EU are a complicated process of intense negotiations, quid pro quos and horse-trading, until an agreement can finally be reached. But that didn't happen in Salzburg.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  5. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  6. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  7. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  8. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  9. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  10. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  11. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow

Latest News

  1. Every major city in Europe is getting warmer
  2. No chance of meeting EU renewable goals if infrastructure neglected
  3. Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK
  4. Wake-up call on European Day Against Islamophobia
  5. Sound of discord at 'Sound of Music' Salzburg summit
  6. Salzburg summit presses for bigger Frontex mandate
  7. UK's post-Brexit plan 'will not work', EU says
  8. Airbnb agrees to clarify pricing for EU

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us