Tainted eggs: two arrested as scandal goes global

11 August 2017

Investigations into Europe’s tainted egg scandal have widened after the European Commission announced that 15 EU states received eggs contaminated by the insecticide harmful to human health.

Dutch prosecutors said that after conducting raids at eight locations in the Netherlands and Belgium on Thursday, police had arrested two suspects as part of the investigation.

The arrested suspects were directors at the Dutch company Chickfriend, a firm specialising in disinfecting poultry farms.

As reported earlier this week by SM, authorities believe the illegal substance entered the food chain after it was secretly mixed with standard cleaning agent to improve the effectiveness of a vaccine supplied to Dutch farms by Chickfriend.

Friponil is used as a vaccine to get rid of fleas, lice and a tick from animals but its use is banned in the EU on animals in the food chain. The World Health Organisation considers the chemical to be moderately toxic and says very large quantities can cause organ damage. 

Gerry Walsh, CIPS CEO, said the scandal highlighted the importance of transparent supply chains in the food industry.

“Though the major supermarkets, suppliers and health officials will be quick to reassure the public the situation is under control, this is a sharp reminder that visibility, transparency and openness in supply chains is s crucial as ever,” he said. 

“Procurement policies and procedures need to be sufficiently robust to mitigate against such unapproved materials entering the supply chain. It is evident that the controls in this case have been inadequate.”

Millions of eggs and egg-based products have been pulled from European supermarket shelves since tests revealed a high level of Fipronil in eggs.

In the UK, four supermarkets withdrew products from their shelves after it emerged that 700,000 eggs had been imported from the Dutch farms implicated in the scare rather than the 21,000 first estimated by authorities. 

The German agriculture ministry estimates that 10.7m possibly contaminated eggs were delivered to German from the Netherlands.

Romania’s food safety authority ANSVSA said it seized one tonne of German liquid egg yolk contaminated with Fipronil from a warehouse in the western county of Timis. 

“The quantity was seized from the storage space of the unit which received it from Germany,” it said.

“No amount of that bunch was sold on the Romanian market.”

The EU countries affected have been named as Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Sweden, the UK, Austria, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Denmark. Switzerland and Hong Kong have also received eggs and egg-based products potentially contaminated with the insecticide. 

Read more:

Tainted egg scandal spreads to the UK

Aldi Germany pulls eggs over pesticide scare

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