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EU 'Too Slow' Over Food Scandal; Contaminated Eggs Also Found in HK, SK

17 August 2017

EU & ASIA - Several European countries are affected by fipronil contaminated eggs, causing millions of eggs to be removed from shelves in European markets.


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"We will hold governments and authorities accountable, they must react by being consumer-oriented, not business-oriented because it involves toxins. We will ask them on a regular basis what they have changed."
Ingmar Streese, Federation of German Consumer Organizations

So far, contaminated eggs from the Netherlands have been found in Belgium, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden, Austria, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Denmark, Switzerland, and China's Hong Kong, according to European Commission's spokesperson Daniel Rosario.

Meanwhile, such eggs were also found at a farm in the Gyeonggi province near South Korea's capital Seoul on Monday.

With the development of the incident, legal procedures have started in some of the countries affected. The Dutch public prosecutor has said that two people had been arrested in the country for being involved in the contamination.

A spokesman of Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said that Belgium would set up a task force to examine all possible measures to support the poultry sector following the insecticide-contaminated egg scandal.

Despite these measures, the incident has provoked concern in Europe over the slow response of governments to the food scandal.

Ruben Sanchez, the spokesman for the Spanish consumer association, Consumers in Action, said some European Union counties were late to inform the EU about the detection of the contaminated eggs, provoking anger in other EU and also non-EU nations.

It was known in November that the problem existed in the Dutch company, Chickfriend, and measures were not taken to alert other countries. Moreover, the Belgian food safety agency discovered the contaminated eggs on 2 June, but reported the issue to the EU on 20 July.

Ingmar Streese, head of consumer policy department of the Federation of German Consumer Organisations, said that to their surprise and disappointment, public authorities in Belgium and the Netherlands were very slow very slow in putting the information into the European database rapid alert system. The crisis has been handled very poorly by the authorities of these states, he said.

He said that in the future, all European countries that detect any kind of food contamination or food safety crisis should immediately let other countries know.

Transparency

The EU has long been famous for its high standard of food safety, however, the contaminated eggs have not only provoked anger in Europe about the slow response of the governments concerned, but also doubts about the authorities' capabilities to deal with such public health crises.

Mr Sanchez said that the EU should "work to find out who is responsible, investigate and consider sanctions against those countries who have committed irregularities and shown a lack of transparency."

Mr Streese stressed the importance of official action. He said: "We will hold governments and authorities accountable, they must react by being consumer-oriented, not business-oriented because it involves toxins. We will ask them on a regular basis what they have changed."

"We still have to wait for the results of the investigation to know what exactly happened," he added. "We will see if there was any criminal intent to contaminate the natural cleaning agent with fipronil. We will be a loudspeaker for any warnings given to consumers."

Further Reading

Go to our previous news item on this story by clicking here.

ThePoultrySite News Desk

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