Eggs are destroyed at a chicken farm in Belgium.
Europe’s latest food scandal has widened after the European commission announced that a total of 15 EU states, plus Switzerland and Hong Kong, are now known to have received egg products contaminated by an insecticide harmful to human health. The EU countries known to be affected by the scandal are Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Sweden, Britain, Austria, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Denmark.
Since late July, millions of eggs have been pulled from the shelves of supermarkets across Europe, ranging from Waitrose to Lidl, in what has been the latest in a long line of food scares highlighting the vulnerability of the human food chain to modern farming and the continued gaps in its supervision.
Following the arrests of the two directors of a Dutch firm, Chickfriend, - Martin van de Braak, 31, and Mathijs IJzerman, 24 - which is believed to have supplied the banned anti-lice agent to farmers. It has emerged that the men first offered the treatment to customers – sold as a souped-up version of a known herbal compound, called Dega 16 – at an intensive farming convention in March last year. They had promised the substance would work quickly and could be blown through gas-powered cannon to disinfect all corners of their customers’ farms. The products on the market could keep the lice away for three months. Their disinfectant did the job for eight months and even had a nice minty smell. At a later fair, it has been reported that breeders asked the men about their secret recipe, only to be told it was indeed secret. There has been no trial, or conviction. A Belgian company, Poultry-Vision, based in Antwerp, has already admitted providing the insecticide – called fipronil – to Chickfriend through a source in Romania.
Tests of chicken droppings, blood and eggs showed high levels of the insecticide fipronil, a common ingredient in veterinary products for getting rid of fleas, lice and ticks, but banned from being used to treat animals destined for human consumption. The World Health Organization said fipronil is "moderately toxic" to humans when it is consumed in large quantities and can have dangerous effects on the kidneys, liver and thyroid glands. NOVA, the Netherlands' food standards agency, said fipronil can cause "nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dizziness and epileptic seizures." However, the agency also stressed its effects were reversible.
There is no evidence yet that anyone has been harmed.
Source: The Guardian