FSA investigates eggs contaminated with insecticide

By Matt Atherton

- Last updated on GMT

Eggs contaminated with fipronil have been distributed in the UK, the FSA confirmed
Eggs contaminated with fipronil have been distributed in the UK, the FSA confirmed

Related tags Eggs United kingdom Europe European union Uk

The origin of imported eggs, contaminated with the insecticide fipronil, is being investigated by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

An FSA statement read: “The number of eggs involved is very small, and the risk to public health is very low, but we are urgently investigating the distribution of these eggs in the UK.”

It was urgently investigating the eggs’ distribution, and was working with businesses that had received contaminated eggs from affected farms. The FSA’s warning came after millions of eggs were taken off supermarket shelves in continental Europe last week due to fipronil contamination.

The FSA said the risk to the public was “very low”​ after imported eggs contaminated with the insecticide fipronil were distributed in the UK. About 0.0001% of eggs imported into the UK each year were contaminated with the insecticide, the food safety watchdog said on August 7.

‘Distributed to the UK’

“Following concerns raised in the Netherlands about a substance called fipronil, which has been used inappropriately in cleaning products on chicken farms, we have identified that a very small number of eggs have been distributed to the UK from the farms affected,”​ the FSA said.

Fipronil has been added to the government’s robust surveillance programmes in UK farms, to prevent any risk to UK consumers, the FSA said.

There was unlikely to be a risk to public health at the low level of potential exposure to fipronil, the FSA said. There was no need to for people to change the way they consumed or cooked eggs, or products containing eggs, it added.

Fipronil is used in more than 50 pesticide products, and is used to kill ants, beetles, cockroaches, fleas, ticks, termites, crickets and other insects, according to the National Pesticide Information Center.

Farmers in the EU are banned from using the insecticide on animals intended for human consumption. When ingested by humans, it can cause nausea, vomiting, headaches, dizziness and seizures.

Removed millions of eggs from shelves

Last week, supermarkets in Germany and the Netherlands removed millions of eggs from their shelves, after fears they were contaminated with fipronil. All eggs in Belgium were blocked from sale.

The contamination originated after fipronil was used inappropriately in cleaning products on chicken farms, the FSA said. About 180 poultry farms in the Netherlands were temporarily shut while investigations are held.

Meanwhile, the FSA’s warning came after it told FoodManufacture.co.uk on Friday (August 4) that there was no evidence that contaminated products had entered the UK market.

At the time, an FSA spokeswoman said: “There is no evidence that UK-produced eggs are affected or that contaminated products have entered the UK market. The UK is already taking action to prevent any risk to the UK by adding Fipronil to the UK’s robust surveillance programme.”

Fipronil contamination – at a glance

  • FSA confirms contamination in UK distribution of eggs
  • 0.0001% of imported eggs affected
  • Millions of eggs taken off supermarket shelves in Germany and the Netherlands

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