Belgium Says Dutch Found Tainted Eggs Back in November

Bruno Cirelli
Agosto 10, 2017

Belgium's agriculture minister Denis Ducarme on Wednesday also weighed in on the situation, accusing Dutch authorities of failing to inform their counterparts in the European Union about the discovery of fipronil in some eggs last November.

Mr Ducharme added that the delay in notifying other countries of the issue had been caused by the NVWA which repeatedly refused to share data in June over which farms had used delousing services from a Dutch company, which was now under investigation.

The Food Standards Agency now believes close to 700,000 eggs from affected farms on the continent have entered the United Kingdom, having previously put the figure at just 21,000.

"When a country like the Netherlands, one of the world's biggest exporters of eggs, does not pass on this kind of information, that is a real problem", he told a parliament hearing.

Mr Ducharme added: "If we had seen this information communicated to our respective agencies, vigilance concerning Fipronil would have been greatly increased".

People who break EU law on fipronil should be prosecuted, said European commissioner for health and food safety Vytenis Andriukaitis.

NVWA denied that it had known definitively about the contamination so soon, but admitted it had received an anonymous tip about the pesticide being used to clean chicken pens in order to combat red lice in that month.

The FSA said it was "reminding food businesses of their legal responsibilities which include informing the FSA or FSS, and relevant local authorities immediately if they have any reason to believe that a food which they have imported, produced, processed, or distributed does not comply with food safety requirements".

But Van Lint, inspector-general of the Dutch food and consumer product safety watchdog, was adamant: "The reproach that we knew in November 2016 about Fipronil in eggs is wrong", he said.

In the Netherlands the issue has continued to escalate with a spokesman for the Dutch farmers' lobby LTO saying that the crisis could force authorities to cull millions of chickens. Britain, France, Sweden and Switzerland have also been warned to keep an eye out.

Sainsbury's, Morrisons, Asda and Waitrose have withdrawn several products containing eggs - including egg salads and sandwiches - as the UK's exposure to the fipronil egg contamination scandal widens.

The number of eggs involved represents around 0.0001% of the eggs imported into the United Kingdom each year.

The lobby though also claimed that consumers were no longer at risk.

In large quantities, the insecticide is considered by the World Health Organisation to be "moderately hazardous" and can have risky effects on people's kidneys, liver and thyroid glands.

Fipronil is used in more than 50 pesticide products, and is used to kill ants, beetles, cockroaches, fleas, ticks, termites, crickets and other insects, according to the National Pesticide Information Center.

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