Major grocers in the Netherlands and Germany have removed eggs from sale after Dutch regulators found the presence of fipronil, an insecticide.

In the Netherlands, the country’s biggest supermarket chain, the Ahold Delhaize-owned Albert Heijn is removing 14 types of eggs from its stores.

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In Germany, Aldi announced it would, as a “precautionary measure”, remove all eggs from its shops. Eggs can now only be delivered to the company if judged fipronil-free by an accredited laboratory.

The move follows a major food contamination scandal, which is rocking the Dutch eggs business, one of the largest in Europe. It focuses on accusations Dutch poultry services company ChickFriend used the insecticide to rid farms of lice.

Around 180 cattle farms, rearing companies and hatcheries in the Netherlands have been temporarily closed down

“All farms who have done business with ChickFriend since 1 January 2017 are being investigated,” a spokesperson for the Netherlands’ Southern Agriculture and Horticulture Organisation told just-food today. These businesses must stop operating until their eggs are cleared for consumption.

“When the egg contains no more than 0.0005 milligrams of fipronil per kilo [the EU standard] the ban is lifted, that is now the case on 43 farms,” the spokesperson said. “It’s not likely that more farms will be found producing eggs with fipronil contamination.” 

A European Commission spokesperson said yesterday the situation was under control: “The eggs are blocked. The contaminated eggs have been traced and withdrawn from the market.”

The Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority is acting to protect European consumers from buying Dutch-produced eggs contaminated with fipronil, a spokesperson said. “We have printed a list of 137 egg codes from the 180 companies [a fifth of all Dutch poultry farms] investigated, so consumers can check if they have the right or wrong eggs in their fridge.”

German supermarket Rewe has removed eggs its Rewe and Penny stores – but only those eggs supplied from the Netherlands.

Rewe said it “does not currently see any reason” to remove all eggs from sale.

Dr. Klaus Mayer, the head of quality management at Rewe, said: “The situation in Germany is not comparable to that in the Netherlands”