Fipronil: food firms ‘must reconsider egg sourcing’

By Matt Atherton contact

- Last updated on GMT

Manufacturers should reconsider their egg sourcing, said British Lion Egg Processors
Manufacturers should reconsider their egg sourcing, said British Lion Egg Processors

Related tags: European union

British Lion Egg Processors has urged food manufacturers to reconsider their egg sourcing, after it emerged eggs contaminated with the insecticide fipronil had been distributed in the UK.

The European-wide egg contamination was the latest of a number of food safety challenges linked to foreign eggs, British Lion Egg Processors said.

British Lion Egg Processors chairman Ian Jones said: “Consumers clearly want retailers and food manufacturers to use good quality British ingredients that are produced to high standards of food safety. But, in some prepared foods this is not the case.

“As we approach Brexit, shoppers are growing increasingly concerned about the ingredients used in manufactured food and now, more than ever, want and deserve transparency on food packaging.”

More than 70% of shoppers expected foods containing eggs to clearly show the eggs’ country of origin on pack, according to research commissioned by British Lion Egg Processors. It also revealed that 40% of consumers would be less likely to shop at retailers that sold imported eggs in products.

An opportunity for manufacturers

The fipronil contamination was an opportunity for manufacturers and retailers to reassure shoppers that they use British eggs.

Jones said: “The egg industry believes that this is a great opportunity for retailers to listen to the concerns of their customers and reassure them by specifying the use of British eggs, and using the ‘Made with British Lion eggs’ logo on packs.”

Meanwhile, the European Commission (EC) was working with the Belgian and Dutch governments to improve safety standards among EU member states. It came after the insecticide contamination in eggs forced supermarkets in Germany and the Netherlands to remove millions of eggs​ from their shelves, and all eggs in Belgium were blocked from sale.

Banned in the EU

People who break EU law on fipronil should be prosecuted, said European commissioner for health and food safety Vytenis Andriukaitis. Using the insecticide on animals intended for human consumption is currently banned in the EU.

Andriukaitis said on Twitter: ​[We are] committed and determined to make every effort to enhance the transparency, co-ordination and co-operation between Member States.

​[It is of the] utmost importance such criminal activity on European level is fully disclosed, ​[and] penalties applied for those who perpetrate it.”

The contamination originated after fipronil was used inappropriately in cleaning products on chicken farms, according to the Food Standards Agency. About 180 poultry farms in the Netherlands have been temporarily shut while investigations are held.

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.

Fipronil contamination – at a glance

  • FSA confirms import of 700,000 eggs​ contaminated with insecticide
  • Contaminated eggs ​very unlikely​to threaten public health: FSA
  • Millions of eggs taken off supermarket shelves in Germany and the Netherlands

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