A food crisis in Germany deepened on Friday as around 4,700 farms were closed after tests showed animal feed contaminated by a cancer-causing chemical, with officials saying they suspected foul play.
And fears grew that the contamination could have entered the food chain earlier than thought, as tests on animal fats at the firm at the centre of the scandal reportedly showed they were tainted as far back as March last year.
A spokesman for Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner told a news conference Friday that “4,709 farms and businesses are currently closed,” including 4,468 in the state of Lower Saxony, northwest Germany.
The farms will be closed until they are found to be clear of contamination with dioxin, a toxic chemical compound that can cause cancer if ingested in large doses, and will not be allowed to make any deliveries, he added.
Eight of Germany’s 16 states were affected by the closures. There are around 375,000 farms in Germany.