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Fipronil: EU 'Toxic' Egg Scandal Grows To Affect At Least 15 Countries

Everything we know so far.

11/08/2017 12:21 | Updated 11 August 2017

The ‘toxic’ egg scandal engulfing European poultry farms has grown to affect at least 15 countries, the EU has said.

Britain is among the nations to have received contaminated eggs or egg products amid an urgent investigation into the use by farms of Fipronil - a toxic insecticide which is banned from use near food.

The UK’s Food Standards Agency was forced to admit yesterday that 720,000 more eggs had come to Britain from affected farms than previously thought.

It comes as supermarkets including Asda, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Morrisons rush to withdraw affected products - yet affected items will have already been consumed.

Egg sandwiches and salads are among those being recalled. 

Bloomberg via Getty Images
UK supermarkets have rushed to withdraw affected egg products (file photo)

Contamination with Fipronil was reported by poultry farms in Europe, including in the Netherlands and Germany, last month.

It is believed that Fipronil, used to kill fleas, lice, ticks, roaches and mites, was inadvertently mixed with a cleaning product routinely used in chicken coops.

Fipronil is banned in products used around food-producing animals.

Reported adverse effects from consumption include sweating, nausea, vomiting, head and stomach pain, dizziness and seizures, according to the US National Pesticide Information Centre.

Farms which used the cleaning product have been subjected to stringent testing.

The FSA said it had no evidence that eggs laid in the UK are contaminated or that Fipronil has been used inappropriately here.

A spokesperson for the British Egg Industry Council said: “British egg producers have reiterated the need for consumers and food producers to look for British Lion eggs and egg products.”

It comes after the agency said on Monday that a “very small number” of eggs, around 21,000, distributed in Britain were believed to be from affected farms and that the risk to the public was “very low”.

But Thursday’s announcement of the number of EU eggs in Britain affected is a 3,000 percent increase on previously confirmed figures.

Heather Hancock, Chairman of the Food Standards Agency, said: “I’m confident that acting quickly is the right thing to do.

“The number of eggs involved is small in proportion to the number of eggs we eat, and it is very unlikely that there is a risk to public health.

“Based on the available evidence there is no need for people to change the way they consume or cook eggs.

“However, Fipronil is not legally allowed for use near food-producing animals and it shouldn’t be there.”

An inquiry has been launched into the scandal, amid claims Dutch authorities did not warn the EU soon enough after realising the potential for contamination.

Dutch authorities arrested two men yesterday in connection with the scandal.

In full: Egg products withdrawn by UK supermarkets

  • By Sainsbury’s Ham and Egg Salad – Pack size: 240g – Use by: 9-14 August
  • By Sainsbury’s Potato and Egg Salad – 300g – 9-14 August
  • Morrison’s Potato and Egg Salad – 250g – 13 August
  • Morrisons Egg and Cress Sandwich – Sold in Morrisons Cafe only – 11 August
  • Morrisons Cafe Sandwich Selection – Sold in Morrisons Cafe only – 11 August
  • Waitrose Free Range Egg Mayonnaise Deli Filler – 240g – 13-16 August
  • Waitrose Free Range Reduced Fat Egg Mayonnaise Deli Filler – 170g – 14 August
  • Waitrose Free Range Egg and Bacon Deli Filler – 170g – 14-16 August
  • Asda Baby potato and free range egg salad – 270g – 9-14 August
  • Asda Spinach and free range egg snack pot – 110g – 9-13 August
  • Asda FTG Ham and Cheddar ploughman’s salad bowl – 320g – 9-13 August
PA Wire/PA Images
The ‘toxic’ egg scandal engulfing European poultry farms has grown
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