The fipronil-in-eggs contamination scare that has rocked Europe’s egg sector saw two major developments today (10 August), with UK supermarkets pulling processed food products and two individuals arrested in the Netherlands over the affair.
UK grocers Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons and Waitrose have recalled pre-packed sandwich and salad lines found to have contained eggs contaminated with the fipronil insecticide said to have been used by a Dutch poultry services company to combat lice in chickens.
In the Netherlands, the country’s food safety regulator said two men who are directors of the firm, Chickfriend, were arrested today after raids in the Netherlands and Belgium. The men’s homes were raided, along with four other locations in the Netherlands and 11 in Belgium were raided.
The recall of 13 SKUs in the UK was revealed when the country’s Food Standards Agency issued an update on the number of eggs that arrived in the UK from Dutch farms affected by the contamination.
Last week, the UK’s FSA said around 21,000 eggs were shipped to the country; today, it said it was “likely that the number of eggs that have come to the UK is closer to 700,000”.
The FSA said: “As this represents 0.007% of the eggs we consume in the UK every year, it remains the case that it is very unlikely that there is any risk to public health from consuming these foods.”
The agency said the recalled products were processed foods containing eggs. It said fresh eggs containing fipronil residues had not gone on sale in the UK. The recalls were being carried out as fipronil is not authorised for use in animals used for or to produce food, the FSA added, rather than being pulled “for food safety concerns”.
It said: “Some of the products made from these eggs will have had a short shelf life and will have already been consumed, however, we identified some that were still within the expiry date. These are now being withdrawn by the businesses involved. The decision to withdraw these products is not due to food safety concerns, but is based on the fact that Fipronil is not authorised for use in food producing animals. The Food Standards Agency and Food Standards Scotland are committed to ensuring that food is safe, and that UK consumers have food they can trust.”