Thousands More Dutch Farms in Tainted Feed Scare

Article excerpt

EUROPE'S LATEST food scare gathered momentum yesterday when about 2,000 more pig farms in the Netherlands discovered that they might have used animal feed tainted with a hormone used in the contraceptive Pill.

The contamination, first discovered on three Dutch pig farms a month ago, has now affected a large majority of producers in the world's third biggest pork-exporting nation.

The crisis also illustrates the difficulty of control within the EU's single market - the industry in 11 of the 15 member states, including the UK, has been hit. Of those, the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium have suffered most and Italy has imposed an import ban.

Early last week, the Dutch agriculture ministry ruled that 7,000 farms, supplied by 74 feed producers, should be prevented from slaughtering or exporting animals. Farms have to be clear of contamination for a week before being allowed to resume work so the authorities had started to ease restrictions.

But hopes that the crisis was under control were dashed on Tuesday when Dutch officials discovered that a further 24 feed producers had received supplies possibly tainted with the banned MPA hormone. That meant extending the restrictions to another 2,000 farms, until then thought to have been clear, according to an umbrella farmers' group.

About 2,100 German farms also received emergency closure orders last week preventing them selling their produce. About 1,700 were in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, which borders the Netherlands. Restrictions on about 500 dairy farms have since been lifted.

Meanwhile, Belgium put about 800 of its farms under surveillance last week, and has found evidence of contaminated feed at two farms. …