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Germany slaughters pigs over dioxin levels

Associated Press / January 12, 2011

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BERLIN — German authorities ordered 140 pigs slaughtered yesterday after tests showed high levels of a cancer-causing chemical for the first time in swine, as the nation’s dioxin scandal widened beyond poultry and eggs.

The top agriculture official in northern Germany’s Lower Saxony state demanded the cull after tests found illegal levels of dioxin in swine at a farm near Verden that purchased tainted feed from the company believed to be responsible for the scandal.

German firm Harles & Jentzsch GmbH, which produced fat used in the tainted feed pellets, is being investigated over allegations it did not alert authorities to the tainted product for months. Tests have shown that fat samples contained more than 70 times the permitted amount of dioxin.

“We were specifically investigating this farm, because they had bought their livestock feed from Harles & Jentzsch,’’ Lower Saxony’s Agriculture Minister Gert Hahne said.

Some 140 of the 536 pigs at the affected farm have to be slaughtered because the dioxin levels in their flesh were 50 percent above the maximum allowed, Ulf Neumann, a spokesman for the Verden government, said yesterday.

The scandal broke last week when German investigators found excessive levels of dioxin in eggs and some chicken.

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