Eggs contaminated with the insecticide fipronil reached the UK and France, two more countries that have been touched by a scandal that has shaken the sector in western Europe.
The UK’s Food Standards Agency has said “a very small number” of eggs have been shipped to the country from the farms affected in the Netherlands.
France’s Agriculture Ministry, meanwhile, said batches of eggs had been supplied to two plants in the country.
The contamination, which is believed to have started in the Netherlands, a major egg exporter, has led to farms in the country and in Belgium having operations suspended and to retailers in four European markets recalling products. Dutch poultry services company ChickFriend is said to have used the insecticide to rid farms of lice.
The UK’s FSA pointed out 85% of the eggs consumed in the country are laid domestically. “The number of eggs involved represents about 0.0001% of the eggs imported into the UK each year,” the FSA said. “Our risk assessment, based on all the information available, indicates that as part of a normal healthy diet this low level of potential exposure is unlikely to be a risk to public health and there is no need for consumers to be concerned. Our advice is that there is no need for people to change the way they consume or cook eggs or products containing eggs.”
Prof. Chris Elliott at the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University Belfast described the FSA’s disclosure as “good news”.
— Prof Chris Elliott (@QUBFoodProf) August 7, 2017
In its statement, France’s Agriculture Ministry said it had been told by European officials over the weekend 13 batches of contaminated eggs reached a facility in Vienne in south-eastern France and in Maine-et-Loire in the centre of the country between 11 and 26 July.
“The presence of traces of fipronil does not in itself constitute a risk; only the analyses undertaken will determine whether the level of contamination of these products is likely to present a risk to consumption,” the Ministry said.
Around 60 farms in Belgium and 180 in the Netherlands have had their operations suspended due to the suspected presence of fipronil.
In Belgium, a judicial investigation is under way. The Belgian and Dutch authorities are conducting parallel investigations to trace the marketing channels for the contaminated eggs.
In the Netherlands, the country’s biggest supermarket chain, the Ahold Delhaize-owned Albert Heijn has removed 14 types of eggs from its stores.
In Belgium, Delhaize said it had been asked by the country’s food safety agency to remove one line of eggs due to the possibility the product “could contain an excessive concentration of fipronil”, a spokesperson for the retailer said.
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.
On Friday, Swiss retailer Migros said it found traces of fipronil in some of its M-Budget own-label eggs. The retailer said the level of contamination was “safe for human health” but “as a precautionary measure” it decided to remove eggs with a final date of storage of 26 August.