China bans German pork and eggs in dioxin scare
China has banned imports of German pork and egg goods after tests last week had revealed levels of dioxin at 77 times the permitted level in animal feed.
The country has ceased imports of "German-produced edible pork and egg products" China's product safety watchdog said in a statement.
The authorities will also inspect goods shipped from Germany before the ban was imposed to see if they are safe.
Previously only South Korea had banned German pork imports.
Slovakia had halted sales of German eggs and poultry meat, even though Germany has said there is no immediate risk to human health.
The Chinese ban was effective from 11 January, said the country's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ).
Shipments already on the way to China and that arrive after 11 January will have to be tested for dioxin.
- Dioxins are a group of chemicals commonly formed as by-products of industrial combustion and chemical processes, such as manufacturing of chemicals, pesticides, steel and paints, pulp and paper bleaching, exhaust emissions and incineration
- The main source of dioxin contamination of food for human consumption is contaminated animal feed
- Dioxins are absorbed by fatty tissue of cattle, poultry, pork and seafood. Foods high in animal fat, such as milk, meat, fish and eggs (and foods produced with them) are the main source of dioxins although all foods contains some
- Dioxins are found throughout the industrialised world, in air, water and soil, as well as in food
- Dioxins can cause problems for people if they are absorbed at high levels for long periods
- They have been shown in lab tests to cause a wide range of effects in certain animals, such as cancer and damage to the immune and reproductive systems, including low sperm count and learning difficulties
German Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner wants to look at tightening regulations in order to prevent a repeat of the current situation.
The scare started after oils intended for bio-fuel had become mixed with oil destined for animal feed.
Some 4,700 German farms were banned from making deliveries after tests at the Harles und Jentzsch plant in the state of Schleswig-Holstein, which produces fats for use in industrial processes as well as to enrich animal feed.
Most of these farms have been since been given the all-clear.
Dioxins are toxins formed by industrial processes and waste burning.
They have been shown to contribute to higher cancer rates and to affect pregnant women.