Dutch Egg Scandal Spreads to 17 Countries Worldwide

GLOBAL - Millions of eggs across Europe have been destroyed, in a food scare caused by a pesticide that was sprayed on chickens in The Netherlands to treat them for ticks, flies and lice, reports Chris McCullough.
calendar icon 15 August 2017
clock icon 3 minute read

European Union leaders have stated they are going to hold an extraordinary meeting late next month over the scandal, which has spread to 17 countries.

Since 20 July, millions of eggs have been destroyed or taken off supermarket shelves as it emerged that Fipronil, which is banned for use on animals for human consumption as it can be harmful to human health, was mixed in with another substance known as Dega 16 used to treat the chickens.

Tests have proven that very low levels of Fipronil, seven to ten times below the maximum limit, have been detected in eggs from the treated chickens. One test in Belgium, however, was above the European limit.

Poisoning by small doses has few effects and requires little treatment; however, heavy and prolonged exposure can damage the kidneys and liver or cause seizures.

Neighbouring countries Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany are all blaming each other over the incident, alleging each of them knew about the problem but failed to announce it soon enough.

Understandably, it is the poultry farmers who have been hit the hardest, and are blaming the company responsible for mixing the chemicals.

According to the EU's Executive Commission, contaminated eggs have been found at producers in four countries; Belgium, France, Germany and The Netherlands.

Other countries who imported eggs or egg products from these producers include Austria, Britain, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland and Hong Kong.

The talks will be head on 26 September between EU ministers and food safety agencies. Commission spokesperson Mina Andreeva said: "The aim is to draw the relevant lessons and discuss the ways to continuously improve the effectiveness of the EU system to deal with food fraud.”

She added that the EU's "priority remains to manage the situation, to continue to co-ordinate and to reassure our citizens."

French Agriculture Minister Stephane Travert said that tests on imported eggs contaminated with pesticide show no risk to public health. He added that around 244,000 eggs imported into France from The Netherlands and Belgium were affected.

France has also confirmed one farm in the Nord-Pas de Calais region was found to have used Fipronil, and is now blocked from selling eggs. The Agriculture Ministry says the French farm reported on July 28, as the scandal was coming to light, that Dega 16 had been used on the farm by a Belgian subcontractor, and the ministry claims no eggs concerned have been sold.

In Denmark food safety authorities say 20 tons of boiled and peeled eggs linked to the pesticide scandal were sold in recent months to a distributor in Denmark, who sold them to canteens, cafés and catering companies in the country.

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