China halts German pork, egg imports in dioxin scare

BEIJING, January 12, 2011 (AFP) - China said it had halted the import of German pork and egg products after authorities in Germany announced some were found to contain high levels of dioxin.

China has banned imports of "German-produced edible pork and egg products," the country's product safety watchdog announced in a statement on its website dated Tuesday. It said the ban was effective immediately.

Chinese authorities also said they would inspect products shipped from Germany prior to Tuesday and would release them only if they were found to be safe.

The watchdog agency said the move was aimed at safeguarding the health of consumers in China. It gave no other details.

German authorities on Tuesday ordered the slaughter of hundreds of pigs after finding high levels of dioxin in pork for the first time since shutting down thousands of farms for tests last week.

China is typically a target of food product bans due to frequent safety scares stemming from dangerous, contaminated or substandard goods.

In one of the worst cases, the industrial chemical melamine was found in the products of 22 Chinese dairy companies in 2008 in a massive scandal blamed for the deaths of at least six infants and for sickening 300,000 others.

Reports of tainted red wine, bleached mushrooms, fake tofu, dyed oranges and rice noodles made with rotten grain have all surfaced in recent months.