msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 1/6/2011 9:15:39 PM ET 2011-01-07T02:15:39

More than 4,7000 farms across Germany have been shut down after cancer-causing dioxin was found in animal feed, the agriculture minister said on Thursday.

Most of the farms are in the Lower Saxony region of northwest Germany and raise pigs, the ministry told the AFP news service.

Earlier this week, some 1,000 farms were banned from selling their products and move than 8,000 chickens were culled after dioxin was found in chicken chow.

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A German company is alleged to have supplied some 3,300 tons of contaminated fatty acids in November in December to feed makers, according to AFP.

Samples taken from the feed show levels of dioxin exceeded allowed levels. Dioxin has been linked to cancer in humans.

The European Union warned that eggs affected by dioxin have entered the UK in processed products destined for human food, the BBC reported.

"Those eggs were then processed and then exported to the United Kingdom... as a 14-ton consignment of pasteurised product for consumption," European Commission health spokesman Frederic Vincent said at a news conference.

"Whether it went into mayonnaise, pastries, I don't know. So we will probably take a look at this with the UK authorities and see what was done with these eggs," he said.

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The German news agency DAPD reported on Monday that prosecutors were investigating chicken food producers over having used ingredients contaminated with dioxin.

Chicken farms in the western states of Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia and Schleswig-Holstein were shut down by authorities.

In Soest in western Germany, authorities ordered more than 8,000 chickens culled on Monday. In eastern Germany authorities said that at least 55 tons of suspect chow had already been fed to the chickens.

This article includes reporting from AFP, The Associated Press and the BBC.

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