Fipronil found in lo­cally-sold eggs, au­thor­i­ties ad­vise against hav­ing more than two eggs a day

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

The Su­per­in­ten­dent of Public Health has warned peo­ple to con­sume no more than two eggs a day af­ter traces of Fipronil were found in im­ported and lo­cal eggs be­ing sold in Malta.

The gov­ern­ment said in a state­ment that Ger­man lab­o­ra­to­ries had found the in­sec­ti­cide in eight of 20 sam­ples of im­ported eggs sent for in for test­ing by the Di­rec­torate for En­vi­ron­men­tal Health.

The Di­rec­torate said in a state­ment yes­ter­day evening that while any use of Fipronil is pro­hib­ited, the amounts found in the eggs on lo­cal shelves were very low.

But, as a pre­cau­tion, it ad­vised against con­sum­ing more than two eggs a day un­til fur­ther no­tice.

The Com­mis­sion for Food Se­cu­rity, the Di­rec­torate of Vet­eri­nary Ser­vices and the Di­rec­torate for En­vi­ron­men­tal Health has al­ready taken steps to stop the sale of con­tam­i­nated eggs and to con­duct fur­ther test­ing.

Ex­perts say the risk of get­ting sick from eat­ing an egg tainted with in­sec­ti­cide is low. But that hasn’t stopped stores across Europe, and now Malta, from strip­ping them from su­per­mar­ket shelves, or pre­vented Euro­pean food safety agen­cies from is­su­ing warn­ings.

The il­le­gal use of the in­sec­ti­cide Fipronil in spray to rid hens of ticks, fleas and lice was ex­posed ear­lier this month and fears about the safety of the every­day food sta­ple.

Fipronil is also com­monly used by vet­eri­nar­i­ans to treat fleas and ticks in pets, but is banned by the Euro­pean Union for treat­ing an­i­mals like chick­ens that are part of the hu­man food chain.

The EU said con­tam­i­nated eggs have been found at pro­duc­ers in Bel­gium, France, Germany and the Nether­lands. It is be­lieved the Fipronil got into the food chain when it was il­le­gally added to a prod­uct used to spray poul­try.

The im­pact for egg pro­duc­ers has been stag­ger­ing.

Al­most all lab tests in Europe show that only very low lev­els of Fipronil — seven to 10 times lower than the max­i­mum per­mit­ted — have been de­tected in eggs from the treated chick­ens, although one test in Bel­gium was above the Euro­pean limit. Poi­son­ing by small doses has few ef­fects and re­quires lit­tle treat­ment. Heavy and pro­longed ex­po­sure can dam­age the kid­neys and liver or cause seizures.

Last week a for­mer Dutch jus­tice min­is­ter was ap­pointed to lead an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the il­le­gal use of a pes­ti­cide on lay­ing hens, which sparked a food scare in Europe and be­yond and led to the de­struc­tion of mil­lions of eggs.

Ac­cord­ing to a gov­ern­ment­com­mis­sioned re­port, the es­ti­mated di­rect eco­nomic cost of the scan­dal to af­fected Dutch egg farm­ers was around €33 mil­lion, due to sales bans and mea­sures to clean up con­tam­i­nated farms.

The true cost is likely much higher. The re­port did not gauge the eco­nomic im­pact of indi­rect con­se­quences such as the dam­aged rep­u­ta­tions of farm­ers whose eggs were found to be tainted with the pes­ti­cide Fipronil and those with un­af­fected farms.

Some su­per­mar­kets in Germany — the big­gest ex­port market for eggs from the Nether­lands — banned all Dutch eggs, not just those from af­fected farms.

The re­port said that, in to­tal, 664 lay­ing stalls at 258 farms were banned from sell­ing eggs. Some of those af­fected have since been cleared to re­sume sales.

The scan­dal started when Fipronil was found to have been il­le­gally mixed into an in­sect spray used to treat lice on chick­ens.

For­mer Dutch Jus­tice Min­is­ter Win­nie Sorgdrager will now lead an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into what hap­pened.

“The in­ves­ti­ga­tion must show what hap­pened and what can be im­proved so that lessons can be learned,” the gov­ern­ment said in a state­ment.

A crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion and a probe by the in­de­pen­dent Dutch Safety Board are al­ready un­der­way

In Italy, po­lice said last week that they have con­fis­cated 92,000 eggs and 26,000 hens af­ter find­ing four eggs con­tam­i­nated with Fipronil.

Health in­spec­tors of the Cara­binieri po­lice said the con­fis­ca­tions came dur­ing re­cent in­spec­tions in An­cona and Viterbo. Some 253 in­spec­tions have so far been car­ried out in Italy.

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