Eggs contaminated with 'potentially harmful' pesticide being sold in UK

Tuesday, 08 Aug, 2017

In large quantities, the insecticide is considered to be "moderately hazardous" according to the World Health Organization, and can have risky effects on people's kidneys, liver and thyroid glands. "The aim is to share the information so that everybody knows that it's up to the Swedish, Swiss and French authorities to check, because all these eggs are traceable", explained the spokeswoman.

The country's agriculture minister said he had ordered its food safety agency to make clear why it failed to notify neighbouring countries until 20 July, despite knowing about the contamination since June.

She said the move was purely precautionary and did not mean that eggs contaminated with fipronil had actually entered those countries.

Supermarket giant Aldi said it was a "purely precautionary" measure and added that eggs sold in its United Kingdom stores were produced in Britain.

In the dark and silent shed of a small Dutch poultry farm, 1.8 million eggs closely packed together wait to be destroyed.

The agency is "urgently investigating" the issue, but to the best of their knowledge, the affected products are no longer on shelves.

Dutch farming organisation LTO said that several million hens may need to be culled at 150 companies in the country, with 300,000 having already been killed.

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The authorities suspect the substance, fipronil, was introduced to poultry farms by a Dutch business named Chickfriend that was brought in to treat red lice, a nasty parasite in chickens.

Around 180 poultry companies in the Netherlands, the second-largest agricultural exporter after the United States, have been temporarily closed.

The European Commission said on Monday that Germany and the Netherlands notified the EU's food safety alert system on the weekend.

It comes after Aldi and Lidl pulled all Dutch eggs from its shelves in Germany last week as the scandal spread through Europe.

Fipronil is an insecticide used in veterinary products for getting rid of fleas, ticks and lice on animals.

It is thought to have been used on chickens in Belgium and could be potentially unsafe to humans.