- BERLIN (Reuters Health) -
The German health ministry has admitted that butter allegedly bought cheap
from Mafia-run sources in Italy and being sold in Germany could
contain the proteins that are thought to cause the human form of "mad
- The butter, which is contaminated with large amounts
of beef fat, was imported on a large scale from southern Italian Mafia-run
dairies, the German magazine "Focus Money" reports in its latest
- The magazine says that one German dairy imported nearly
200 tons of the butter from the Italian firm Italburro, which, it says,
is linked to the Camorra organization from Naples.
- The magazine claims it has seen investigation documents
from the Italian authorities that show that the German dairy Bayernland
imported 188 tons of butter from Italburro between 1998 and 1999.
- "The Bavarians also brought in a further 171 tons
of dubious goods via a dealer who, say investigators, was completely and
knowingly involved in Mafia business," a spokesman for the magazine
said in a statement.
- He added that a laboratory analysis conducted on order
of Bayernland, and seen by the magazine, showed in spring 1999 that the
butter sample contained a foreign fat component of 35% to 40%. The
fat was probably suet, a hard fatty tissue that surrounds the kidneys in
cattle and sheep.
- The Italian authorities say that the company accepted
the shipment despite this, according to the magazine's research. Bayernland
- The German authorities have admitted for the first time,
the magazine states, that adulterated butter was brought into the
- "German companies have obtained adulterated butter
from Italy in various different time scales until spring 1999," the
Federal Ministry for Consumer Protection, Nutrition and Agriculture told
- The ministry spokeswoman, Ursula Horzetzky, could not
rule out "the risk of the transmission of BSE (bovine spongiform
also known as "mad cow" disease) pathogens via the unlawful use
of fats from slaughter waste in foodstuffs."
- She told Reuters Health that the German government had
repeatedly asked the European Commission and EU member states, but had
not received files about the composition of the butter.
- She said, "We therefore have to rely only on what
the Commission has said, which is that there is no immediate threat to
health from the adulterated butter," adding that the case had again
shown the need for steps to be taken against fraudulent wheeling and