A food contamination scandal in Germany has led to a spike in demand for organic products.
In the first week of January, a German firm was discovered to have supplied around 3,000 tonnes of fatty acids intended for industrial use to animal feed producers. The error, which occurred at the tail end of 2010, has been linked to increased levels of dioxin in a range of agricultural outputs, including poultry meat, eggs and pork. About 150,000 tonnes of animal feed are suspected to contain the contaminated fatty acids.
Consumers are alarmed as dioxins are carcinogenic. Tests have found higher than permitted levels of dioxin, which can cause cancer, in eggs and in three chickens, according to the federal agriculture ministry.
At the Bio Company store in Berlin's Kreuzberg district, the shelves are virtually bare, as demand for organic meat and eggs spikes amid a dioxin crisis that has shaken Germans' faith in food.
Demand at the store has rocketed since the scare broke last week, said Silke Unwetter, store assistant. “We have been selling at least twice as much meat and eggs,” she said.
At the high point of the crisis, authorities banned more than 4,700 farms from selling their goods and destroyed more than 100,000 eggs as a precautionary measure.
And just as hopes were growing that the crisis had eased, with more than 4,000 farms reopened, it has emerged the contamination had spread to pork, one of Germany's favourite dishes.
And as Germans turn away from battery-farmed produce, fears were growing of a shortage in organic food. The chairman of the German Federation for Organic Food (BOELW), Felix Prinz zu Loewenstein, said his members were already reporting shortages.
“The market was not very well supplied before the crisis and the chickens are not laying any more quickly,” he said.
Eggs are some of the most popular of "bio" products, according to the BOELW, citing a survey showing that 63% of organic shoppers put eggs in their baskets, just ahead of fruits and potatoes.
Source: Organic Monitor