News ID: 198406
Published: 0306 GMT August 11, 2017

Egg scandal hits 15 EU countries

Egg scandal hits 15 EU countries

Fifteen EU countries as well as Hong Kong and Switzerland have received eggs contaminated with the insecticide fipronil, the European Commission said.

The commission’s food safety chief called countries to stop "blaming and shaming" each other, BBC reported on Friday.  

Eggs, coming mainly from the Netherlands, have been found to contain a harmful pesticide banned by the EU for use in the food industry.

"Blaming and shaming will bring us nowhere and I want to stop this," Vytenis Andriukaitis, the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said in a statement.

"But first things first. Our common job and our priority now is to manage the situation, gather information, focus on the analysis and lessons to be learned in a view to improve our system and prevent criminal activity."

On Thursday, investigators arrested two people in raids on companies in the Netherlands and Belgium.

The UK food watchdog also said about 700,000 eggs had been sent to the UK from potentially contaminated Dutch farms, up from an earlier estimate of 21,000.

Supermarkets in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany have withdrawn millions of eggs from sale.

On Friday, France's Agriculture Minister Stéphane Travert said about 250,000 affected eggs had been sold in the country since April, adding that all products containing eggs from contaminated farms would be taken off the shelves.

Fipronil should not be allowed anywhere near food. But the risk from eggs is thought to be low, because the number of contaminated eggs is also low.

It is thought that fipronil, which is used to kill lice and ticks on animals, was added to disinfectant on some chicken farms in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.

The insecticide can damage people's kidneys, liver and thyroid glands if eaten in large quantities.

A criminal investigation is under way in Belgium and the Netherlands, centering on two firms – Poultry Vision, a pest control firm from Belgium, which is alleged to have sold the treatment to a Dutch poultry farm cleaning company, Chickfriend.

More than 100 poultry farms have been closed during the investigation, and 26 suspects identified and evidence seized from their companies.

The Netherlands is Europe's biggest egg producer – and one of the largest exporters of eggs and egg products in the world.

It has since emerged that Belgian officials knew about the contamination in June, but did not make the information public. 

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