German authorities have said up to 3,000 tonnes of dioxin-contaminated animal feed additive may have been sold – almost six times more than previously estimated - as more details about the crisis emerged yesterday.
Officials had earlier estimated that 527 tonnes of the additive, which is believed to have been tainted with industrial fats containing the toxic chemical, have been delivered to hen, poultry and pig farms in Germany.
A spokesperson for EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy John Dalli told the BBC it was "too early" to consider a ban on exports.
The alarm was raised last week when eggs and meat containing trace amounts of dioxin were discovered. Dioxin is a poisonous chemical, linked to the development of cancer in humans.
Some 136,000 contaminated eggs have been exported to the Netherlands that could have been used as ingredients in processed food such as mayonnaise, it was revealed yesterday. However, German agriculture ministry spokesman Holger Eichele said it was not aware of exports to any other EU nations.
The news came as police in Germany carried out searches Wednesday at Harles and Jentzsch - the feed producer at the centre of the incident in Schleswig-Holstein that produced the fat - and a subsidiary in Lower Saxony.
Harles and Jentzsch sold the fat to 25 German feed manufacturers although it currently appears that no feed was sold to firms abroad.
So far more than 1,100 farms in Germany have been shut as a result of the crisis, most in Lower Saxony, and some 8,000 hens culled.
The European Union has demanded an explanation for the cause of the contamination and there have been calls within Germany for stricter industry regulation and tougher penalties against offenders.
The UK Food Standards Agency said there was no evidence to suggest that potentially contaminated animal feed, or food from the animals that may have eaten the feed, had entered the UK.