Tainted EU egg goods found in 17 countries

Claudine Rigal
Août 13, 2017

The European Commission (EC) has said a total of 15 EU states besides Switzerland and Hong Kong, are now known to have received egg products contaminated by an insecticide harmful to human health.

Hong Kong is increasing inspections of eggs imported from Europe, officials said on Saturday after some were found to be contaminated with an insecticide in a scandal, which has now spread beyond the EU. Rosario said the others are Sweden, Britain, Austria, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Denmark and non-EU member Switzerland.

Millions of eggs have been destroyed or pulled from supermarket shelves since July 20, when it was made public that the pesticide Fipronil, which is risky to human health, was found mixed with another treatment sprayed on chickens for ticks, fleas and lice, known as Dega 16.

The EU's executive Commission said Friday that contaminated eggs have been found at producers in four countries; Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands. "We need to work together to draw the necessary lessons and move forward instead of losing energy on finger pointing", commissioner Andriukaitis said.

Eggs, coming mainly from the Netherlands, were found to contain fipronil, a substance used to kill lice and ticks on animals that is banned by the European Union for use in the food industry.

But the insecticide can damage people's kidneys and livers if eaten in large quantities.

As well as dealing with the immediate food safety issue, the European Union is also seeking to calm tempers over the egg row after a series of divisive crises in the bloc in recent years, from Brexit to migration. Belgium earlier this week accused the Netherlands of knowing about the fipronil eggs since November 2016 and failing to notify other countries, a charge the Dutch have denied. He said the eggs came from the Netherlands and were delivered by a German company.

A Belgian company, Poultry Vision, has said it provided Chickfriend with the chemical. Dutch and Belgian investigators carried out coordinated raids on several premises on Thursday, arresting two people at a Dutch firm believed to be at the centre of the crisis.

Travert said test results received overnight from the French food safety agency on affected eggs and egg products showed "the level of contamination does not present a risk for the consumer". Previous food scandals include contamination of chickens and eggs by dioxin in 1999, which began in Belgium, and mad-cow disease - cattle feed contaminated by the ground-up carcasses of animals infected with a deadly brain disorder - which ran from roughly 1986-1998 and started in Britain. He said the eggs would either be destroyed or returned to the producer.

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