PARIS: Over one million tonnes of animal feed in Europe could be contaminated by banned genetically modified organisms contained in a vitamin-based additive, French newspaper Le Monde reported.
Citing a memo from Dutch health authorities, Le Monde said that eight tonnes of a vitamin B2 additive produced by a genetically modified strain of the Bacillus subtilis bacteria had been sold in Poland, Italy and the Netherlands between April and June.
The additive, also known as riboflavin (80%), is used in the feed of cattle, pigs and poultry.
Because only a small amount of additive is used, the amount of feed that may have been contaminated could run from 800,000 to 1.6 million tonnes, Le Monde quoted the Dutch authorities as saying.
The additive was produced by Chinese company Shandong and distributed by Dutch company Trouw Nutrition, owner of Nutreco, the world leader in animal feed, Le Monde said.
Some 2,500 kilogrammes has already been used in feed in Poland, the paper added.
The report comes two months after the European Commission withdrew the vitamin’s authorisation and ordered it to be withdrawn from sale by November 10, after the European Food Safety Authority said it presented a risk for both animals and humans.
The authority said the it “poses a risk for the target species, consumers, users and the environment” due to the presence of genetically modified genes resistant to antibiotics “of human and veterinary importance”.
A European Commission spokeswoman told AFP that a Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed had been triggered, but did not say what countries were targeted nor what quantity of the additive had been traced.
She emphasised that it was the responsibility of EU member states “to ensure that unauthorised products are not found on the market” and to punish those who violate the ban.
National food safety authorities have been scrambling to trace stocks of the additive since the EU banned it.
In October, Belgian authorities found a shipment of 60 kilogrammes imported from China by a Dutch-based company, Le Monde said.
It cited Dutch authorities as saying that consignments of the banned additive had also been sent to France, Germany, Norway, Russia, Finland and Iceland.
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