Two arrested as Europe egg scandal spreads to Denmark

Saturday, 12 Aug, 2017

The UK's food watchdog says about 700 thousand contaminated eggs were imported from the Netherlands, up from an earlier estimate of 21 thousand.

In these two countries, more than 200 farms of laying hens have been contaminated after the disinfection of the premises with products containing fipronil, an insecticide whose use is, however, strictly prohibited in the poultry industry.

"I proposed to hold a high-level meeting gathering the ministers concerned as well as the representatives of the food safety agencies in all member states involved as soon as we have all the facts available", he said in a statement.

The contaminated eggs are a priori limited risks to the health of the consumer, since the doses of fipronil potentially ingested remain largely below the amounts considered harmful.

EU Trade and Agriculture spokesman Daniel Rosario said on Friday that farms were shut down in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and France after authorities confirmed that fipronil had been used.

British Lion Egg Processors chairman Ian Jones said: "The major retailers are operating to double standards when it comes to eggs".

The Netherlands is the leading exporter of eggs to the European Union, according to data released by Eurostat.

In response, Sainsbury's, Morrisons, Waitrose and Asda have withdrawn a total of 11 products - including sandwiches, sandwich fillers and salads - from sale.

As reported on Thursday there are millions of contaminated eggs being pulled off the shelves in Germany and now reports of 20 tonnes of such eggs being sold to Denmark have come in.

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Eggs organic are not spared, as the disinfectant in the fipronil used fraudulently in Belgium and the netherlands was presented as a natural product by the companies that the market.

A toxic eggs scandal has 17 countries keeping an eye out for a chemical called fipronil.

However, the Food Standards Agency is also playing down public health risks, saying it affects less than one percent of eggs consumed in Britain.

Dutch police have arrested two people suspected of using fipronil.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says that when eaten in large quantities it can harm people's kidneys, liver and thyroid glands.

The products include bread and cookies made with processed eggs from the three European countries.

However, ChickFriend, a Dutch company, is under investigation for buying the product and treating poultry farms in both Belgium and the Netherlands, according to numerous media reports.

Agriculture officials in Portugal have moved to quell fears about contaminated eggs reaching supermarket shelves here, saying none of the affected lots were ever intended for this country.

Dutch and Belgian authorities are carrying out raids as part of a criminal investigation into the illegal use of pesticide at poultry farms.