Tainted eggs from the Netherlands may have entered France and the UK, according to the European Commission
France24 reports that the French Agriculture Ministry is currently investigating 13 shipments from the Netherlands. The eggs were sent to the Vienne and Maine-et-Loire regions between July 11-26. They are suspected of being tainted with fipronil, which is used to combat fleas and ticks.
In addition, chickens belonging to a farmer in Pas-de-Calais are currently being monitored. The farmer was informed that fipronil had been used on his chickens. He purchased his birds from a supplier in Belgium.
In a statement, the Agriculture Ministry said it was trying to determine if the eggs were “susceptible of presenting a risk to consumers.” While fipronil is not harmful in small quantities, the World Health Organization has labeled it “moderately hazardous” in large quantities. The chemical poses a risk to organs like the kidneys and liver. It is banned from being used in animals intended for human consumption.
The UK’s Food Standards Agency released a similar statement. According to the FSA, “the number of eggs involved is very small and the risk to public health is very low."
Belgium's revelation that it had known about the tainted eggs since June has sent shockwaves through Europe. Belgian officials claim they did not trigger the EU’s Rapid Alert system because of an ongoing fraud probe. This explanation has not satisfied its European neighbors. Germany has requested an official report. Belgium’s Agriculture Minister, Denis Ducarme, promised “complete transparency.”
The EU’s tracking system has allowed authorities to locate the suspect eggs. Eggs have already been pulled from supermarkets in countries like Sweden and Switzerland.
A Dutch business called Chickfriend is accused of introducing fipronil into the poultry supply. Chickfriend claims that their insecticide came from a Belgian company.
Both Belgium and the Netherlands have had to shutter many farms. Belgium has closed 51 farms and the Netherlands has closed 138.
On Wednesday, calls for transparency intensified when news broke that the Netherlands may have known about fipronil contamination as early as November 2016.
Agriculture Minister Stephane Travert has called for "much more fruitful and rapid exchanges of information" between EU countries.
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