Germany Vigilant After Massive Recall of Tainted Eggs

Henrietta Strickland
August 4, 2017

The Netherlands' biggest supermarket group Albert Heijn said on Thursday it is removing 14 different types of eggs from its shelves, as the uncertainty over pesticide contamination continues.

The insecticide, manufactured by Germany's BASF among other companies, is commonly used in veterinary products to get rid of fleas, lice and ticks.

Supermarkets Lidl and Aldi also said Thursday that they had immediately stopped selling eggs from any farms where fipronil was found to be used.

Fipronil is considered by the World Health Organisation to be moderately toxic, with high doses leading to feelings of nausea and dizziness. About a million eggs destined for Germany, this week withdrew from the border of the Netherlands.

The NVWA first said there was no danger to human health and then issued a warning about certain batches of eggs, only for its deputy director to suggest a day later consumers should avoid eggs altogether until tests for a banned pesticide have been completed.

"Affected farms must have all eggs destroyed by a specialist firm and submit to the NVWA a plan to evacuate the birds' droppings to preserve the environment", a spokesman said.

However, one Dutch company reportedly used the substance to control red lice in their chicken coops.

Chickens can remain contaminated for between six to eight weeks.

Facing large losses, poultry farmers say they were "cheated" by Chickfriend, which they blame for the incident.

The NVWA was still ensuring on Tuesday that the contaminated eggs were being taken off supermarket shelves. I suspect that in legal insecticides were added illegally to increase the effectiveness of the drugs.

Chickfriend could not be reached for comment on Tuesday, with all calls from AFP going to an answering machine with a message saying the company was closed "for professional reasons". The rest of the companies have eggs that contain the poison but not above the norm.

"We've never seen fipronil before, that was something new for our experts", the German agricultural ministry spokesman said, but added that there was no health risk.

The Netherlands has nearly 1,000 lay hen factory farms producing 11bn eggs a year, of which more than half are exported, mainly to Germany.

The scandal is expected to hit Dutch poultry farmers hard, given that 60 to 70 percent of Dutch eggs are exported to countries like Germany, which in 2016 received about five billion eggs from the Netherlands. The Dutch food and product safety board, the NVWA, told the newspaper it was unclear whether contaminated eggs had been sold to customers over that period.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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