Dutch au­thor­i­ties may need to cull mil­lions of hens at 150 com­pa­nies

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

BRUSSELS — The United King­dom and France have said that some in­sec­ti­cide­tainted eggs may have en­tered their coun­tries, as mil­lions of chick­ens faced be­ing culled in the Nether­lands in a grow­ing European con­tam­i­na­tion scan­dal.

Bel­gium mean­while vowed full trans­parency about why it kept the scan­dal se­cret de­spite orig­i­nally learn­ing in June about the prob­lem in­volv­ing fipronil, a sub­stance po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous to hu­mans.

Su­per­mar­kets in Ger­many, the Nether­lands and Bel­gium have pulled mil­lions of eggs from the shelves since Bel­gium gave the European Com­mis­sion the first no­ti­fi­ca­tion on July 20, while re­tail­ers in Swe­den and Switzer­land have fol­lowed suit.

The com­mis­sion said on Mon­day that un­der its EU rapid alert sys­tem, it had been de­ter­mined that eggs un­der sus­pi­cion of con­tam­i­na­tion had also been dis­trib­uted to France and Bri­tain via Ger­many.

“It’s now up to the Swedish, Swiss, French and to the UK to check, be­cause all th­ese eggs are trace­able and track­able,” said spokes­woman Anna-Kaisa Itko­nen.

Bri­tain’s Food Stan­dards Agency said it was “ur­gently in­ves­ti­gat­ing the dis­tri­bu­tion of th­ese eggs in the UK” from farms at the cen­ter of the scare, while adding that “the num­ber of eggs in­volved is very small and the risk to pub­lic health is very low”.

The French govern­ment said 13 batches of Dutch eggs con­tam­i­nated with fipronil have been found at two food­pro­cess­ing fac­to­ries in cen­tral-west­ern France.

The agri­cul­ture min­istry said they were un­able to im­me­di­ately say whether any of the prod­ucts had been shipped to cus­tomers.

Mean­while, Dutch farm­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion LTO said sev­eral mil­lion hens may need to be culled at 150 com­pa­nies in the coun­try, with 300,000

It’s now up to the Swedish, Swiss, French and to the UK to check, be­cause all th­ese eggs are trace­able and track­able.” Anna-Kaisa Itko­nen, European Com­mis­sion spokes­woman

hav­ing al­ready been killed.

An LTO spokesman said they “had to be elim­i­nated be­cause of con­tam­i­na­tion”.

Dutch au­thor­i­ties have shut­tered 138 poul­try farms — about one-fifth of those across the coun­try — and warned that eggs from an­other 59 farms con­tained high enough lev­els of fipronil that they should not be eaten by chil­dren.

‘Com­plete trans­parency’

Bel­gium cur­rently has pro­duc­tion blocked from 51 farms — a quar­ter of those na­tion­wide — with fipronil found at 21 farms, al­though lev­els were ten times be­low the max­i­mum EU limit, the coun­try’s food safety author­ity AFSCA said.

Bel­gium’s agri­cul­ture min­is­ter mean­while said he had or­dered the agency to re­port by Tues­day on why it failed to no­tify neigh­bor­ing coun­tries un­til July 20 de­spite know­ing about fipronil con­tam­i­na­tion since June.

Fac­ing pres­sure from Ger­many and the Nether­lands, Du­carme promised “com­plete trans­parency”.

Bel­gian of­fi­cials ad­mit­ted on Satur­day they had kept the prob­lem un­der wraps and failed to trig­ger the EU’s in­ter­na­tional food safety alert sys­tem, but said it was be­cause of a fraud probe.

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