Again increased PCB load in organic eggs

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PCB contamination in eggs of an organic laying hen farm in the district of Oldenburg

Controllers again discovered eggs with a non-dioxin-like pollutant PCB. The contaminated eggs come from an organic farm in the district of Oldenburg / Lower Saxony, as the Lower Saxony Ministry of Agriculture announced. The large enterprise was blocked until further notice.

According to the latest knowledge, the eggs were delivered from the organic farm to the Netherlands and most likely to several federal states in Germany. On Saturday afternoon, a spokesman for the Ministry of Agriculture confirmed corresponding media reports. At the moment, however, it cannot be said exactly where the eggs went and to what extent contaminated eggs ended up in the supermarkets. The ministry now wants to evaluate the trade routes on the basis of lists of intermediaries and buyers.

Non-dioxin-like PCB substances in the eggs
Unlike previously reported, it is not a “dioxin-like PCB” (polychlorinated biphenylene) but a non-dioxin-like PCB. These are considered "less dangerous than the 12 PCBs", which have a very similar mode of action and structure to dioxin. Although the Ministry in Hanover is currently not assuming an acute health risk for consumers, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (RKI) has been commissioned to carry out a hazard analysis.

There is still no information on the specific cause of the pollution. In-depth investigations were already started after the find, and the Ministry of Agriculture expects the first evaluation results in the course of the coming week. The first samples were taken from the confiscated eggs. In addition, the feed and the soil are examined.

First found on April 7th
The contaminated eggs were discovered in a supermarket in Bavaria. A check showed that the exposure was twice as high as the EU limit. The find took place on April 7th. The authorities only received the first results from the egg samples on April 30. A spokeswoman for the Bavarian State Office for Health and Food Safety emphasized that the eggs were not delivered to Bavaria themselves. Accordingly, it remains unclear how the eggs got to the Bavarian discounter and why the analyzes took so much time. It cannot therefore be ruled out that consumers have already consumed the eggs to a large extent

Secured tens of thousands of eggs
The open-air organic farm is one of the large companies in the region and produces around 18,000 organic eggs a day, as the Ministry of Agriculture in Hanover announced on Friday evening. During a self-check, experts discovered the eggs contaminated with PCB in a supermarket in Bavaria. The find occurred on Wednesday last week. In the laboratory, the eggs exceeded 100 percent of the EU standard. According to a ministry spokesman, the eggs had 80 nanograms of PCB per gram of egg fat. The maximum value is a maximum of 40 nanograms of PCB per gram. As a result, the manufacturing company in Lower Saxony was initially blocked and checked.

"There is no immediate health risk for consumers," said the Ministry of Agriculture. However, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (RKI) was asked for a health assessment.

All eggs are recalled from the market and may no longer be sold. In addition, government employees have seized tens of thousands of eggs in the packing centers in Lower Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt. Samples of these eggs are also currently being taken. Over 100,000 eggs brought to the Netherlands were also blocked. The egg yard was closed until further notice. No eggs are allowed to leave the factory, as it was said.

Eggs should not be consumed
Consumers who already have eggs with the Stamp code 0-DE-0357911 purchased, are encouraged not to eat the eggs, but to bring them back to the trade for a refund of the purchase price or to destroy them independently. Dioxin and PCB are environmental toxins that are suspected of being carcinogenic and nerve-damaging in higher concentrations. The toxic substances accumulate in the adipose tissue of humans and animals and also have a high half-life. "The investigation into the cause of the entry with regard to possible entries via forage, soil, bedding or building materials will continue," said the ministry.

In recent months, several farms in North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony had to be closed because PCBs were discovered in the eggs during controls. Two of the producers were organic farms. Although the industrial processing of PCBs has been banned in Germany since the early 1980s, the toxic substance continues to enter the food chain. High levels of pollution are also regularly reported in rivers and fish. The main reason for this is usually the improper storage of contaminated sites. (sb)

Read on:
Dioxin in organic eggs: causes still unknown
Health risk from dioxin eggs

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