About 700,000 contaminated eggs imported into UK

By Matt Atherton

- Last updated on GMT

About 700,000 contaminated eggs were imported into the UK
About 700,000 contaminated eggs were imported into the UK

Related tags Food Food safety Salad Food standards agency

The number of imported eggs contaminated with the insecticide fipronil is now estimated at 700,000, leading the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to reveal recalls for a wide range of food products affecting some of Britain’s biggest retailers.

The FSA upgraded its assessment after telling FoodManufacture.co.uk last week (August 4) there was no evidence any contaminated eggs had entered the UK. On Monday (August 7), it said about 21,000 contaminated eggs had been imported.

The FSA insisted the recalls – which included Sainsbury and Asda salads – were not issued on food safety concerns, but because fipronil is banned from use on food-producing animals.

‘Food safety concerns’

An FSA statement read: “The decision to withdraw these products is not due to food safety concerns, but is based on the fact that fipronil is not authorised for use in food producing animals. The FSA and Food Standards Scotland are committed to ensuring that food is safe, and that UK consumers have food they can trust.”

FDF on fipronil contamination

“The safety and authenticity of our products is of paramount importance for the UK food and drink industry and FDF. FDF and its members are working closely with FSA to identify which products need to be withdrawn with immediate effect, due to the presence of Fipronil in the finished product.”

  • Food and Drink Federation

In the UK, many of the fipronil-contaminated eggs imported from the Netherlands were mixed with other, safe eggs, the FSA said. That meant the fipronil was highly diluted, and was very unlikely to be a risk to public health, it claimed.

FSA chairman Heather Hancock 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.”

Processed foods

Products affected by the recall were processed foods, in which egg was one ingredient among many others. While many of the affected products had a short shelf-life, and would have already been eaten, there were still some products that were within expiry date, the FSA said. See below for a full-list of recalled products.

The rise in the FSA’s estimated number of contaminated eggs came after supermarkets in Germany and the Netherlands removed millions of eggs from their shelves​ last week amid contamination fears. 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 farms in the Netherlands were temporarily shut while investigations are carried out.

Products recalled over fipronil contamination fears

  • Sainsbury Ham and Egg Salad – 240g – Use by August 9 – August 14
  • Sainsbury Potato and Egg Salad – 300g – Use by August 9 – August 14
  • Morrisons Potato and Egg Salad – 250g – Use by August 13
  • Morrisons Egg and Cress Sandwich – Sold in Morrisons Café only – Use by August 11
  • Waitrose Free Range Egg Mayonnaise – 240g – Use by August 13
  • Waitrose Free Range Reduced Fat Egg Mayonnaise – 170g – Use by August 14
  • Waitrose Free Range Egg and Bacon – 170g – Use by August 14
  • Waitrose Free Range Egg and Bacon – 170g – Use by August 16
  • Waitrose Free Range Egg Mayonnaise – 240g – Use by August 16
  • Asda Baby potato and free range snack pot – Use by August 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14
  • Asda Spinach and free range egg snack pot – Use by August 9, 10, 12, 12 and 13
  • Asda FTG Ham and Cheddar ploughman’s salad bowl – August 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13

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