LONDON: The European Commission says that at least fifteen EU countries, as well as Hong Kong and Switzerland, have received eggs contaminated with the insecticide fipronil. Its announcement comes ahead of a planned meeting with ministers and other officials next month to discuss the crisis.
The European Commission, the European Union’s executive, says farms have been shut down here in Germany as well as in the Netherlands, Belgium, and France after authorities confirmed that fipronil included also had been used.
EU countries that received tainted eggs also included Britain, Sweden, Austria, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Denmark. Non-EU Switzerland is also affected. And a revelation that tainted eggs had also been sent to Hong Kong marks the first time the widening scandal has spread outside Europe. Experts say the insecticide can damage people’s kidneys, liver and thyroid glands if eaten in large quantities.
However, food standards agencies are playing down the risks for anyone who has already eaten the tainted eggs. Most tainted eggs arrived from the Netherlands, which exports an estimated 65 percent of more than 10 billion eggs it produces every year.
Yet Dutch poultry farmer Anja Visscher was still eating eggs this morning. She has a barn with 25,000 chickens and says there was no contamination with daily controls continuing in her farm. “I hope that a lot’s of people are going to buy Dutch eggs. It is, and I mean that seriously, a very good egg.”
But across the border here in Germany supermarkets have withdrawn millions of eggs from sale while in Belgium and the Netherlands have also taken off millions of eggs from their shelves. Similar actions are underway in Britain where authorities said about 700,000 eggs had been sent there from potentially contaminated Dutch farms, up from an earlier estimate of 21,000.
Processed foods containing eggs, including sandwiches and salads, have been recalled by leading supermarkets there.
In France, about 250,000 affected eggs have sold in the country since April and authorities say products containing eggs from contaminated farms will be taken off the shelves. Further away in Hong Kong, the government’s Centre for Food Safety also identified two samples of imported Dutch eggs containing excessive levels of fipronil and asked shops to remove the products. Ministers and regulators are gathering on September 26 to discuss ways to prevent similar scandals in the future.