EU plans talks as tainted eggs scan­dal hits 17 coun­tries

The Detroit News - - Front Page - BY LORNE COOK As­so­ci­ated Press

Brussels — The Euro­pean Union said Fri­day that it plans to hold an ex­tra­or­di­nary meet­ing late next month over a grow­ing tainted egg scan­dal as it re­vealed that prod­ucts con­tam­i­nated with an in­sec­ti­cide have now spread to 17 coun­tries.

Mil­lions of eggs have been de­stroyed or pulled from su­per­mar­ket shelves since July 20, when it was made pub­lic that the pes­ti­cide Fipronil, which is dan­ger­ous to human health, was found mixed with an­other treat­ment sprayed on chick­ens for ticks, fleas and lice, known as Dega 16.

Al­most all lab tests 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 ex- po­sure can dam­age the kid­neys and liver or cause seizures.

The scan­dal has caused ma­jor po­lit­i­cal fall­out, with neigh­bors Bel­gium, the Nether­lands and Ger­many squab­bling over who is to blame, and who knew what and when. Poul­try farm­ers have been hard­est hit, and are blam­ing the chem­i­cal in­dus­try for com­pro­mis­ing their busi­ness and ex­pos­ing con­sumers to dan­ger.

The EU’s ex­ec­u­tive Com­mis­sion said Fri­day that con­tam­i­nated eggs have been found at pro­duc­ers in four coun­tries; Bel­gium, France, Ger­many and the Nether­lands. Eggs or egg prod­ucts from those pro­duc­ers have reached Aus­tria, Bri­tain, Den­mark, Ire­land, Italy, Lux­em­bourg, Poland, Ro­ma­nia, Slove­nia, Slo­vakia and Swe­den, as well as Switzer­land and Hong Kong out­side the EU.

The Com­mis­sion an­nounced that it is aim­ing to hold talks be­tween EU min­is­ters and food safety agen­cies con­cerned on Sept. 26.

Con­tact us:

“The aim is to draw the rel­e­vant lessons and dis­cuss the ways to con­tin­u­ously im­prove the ef­fec­tive­ness of the EU sys­tem to deal with food fraud,” Com­mis­sion spokes­woman Mina An­dreeva said.

She said the EU’s “pri­or­ity re­mains to man­age the sit­u­a­tion, to con­tinue to co­or­di­nate and to re­as­sure our cit­i­zens.”

In France, Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Stephane Travert said that tests on im­ported eggs con­tam­i­nated with pes­ti­cide show no risk to pub­lic health.

Travert said on RMC ra­dio Fri­day that some 244,000 eggs im­ported from the Nether­lands and Bel­gium and sold in France were af­fected.

He said test re­sults re­ceived overnight from the French food safety agency on af­fected eggs and egg prod­ucts showed “the level of con­tam­i­na­tion does not present a risk for the con­sumer.”

France has also con­firmed one farm in the Nord-Pas de Calais re­gion was found to have used Fipronil, and is now blocked from sell­ing eggs.

The Agri­cul­ture Min­istry says the French farm re­ported on July 28, as the scan­dal was com­ing to light, that Dega 16 had been used on the farm by a Bel­gian sub­con­trac­tor, and the min­istry claims no eggs con­cerned have been sold.

Dan­ish food safety au­thor­i­ties say 20 tons of boiled and peeled eggs linked to the pes­ti­cide scan­dal were sold in re­cent months to a dis­trib­u­tor in Den­mark, which in turn sold them to can­teens, cafes and cater­ing com­pa­nies in the coun­try.

The agency said Dan­ish dis­trib­u­tor, Danaeg Prod­ucts, has been or­dered to re­call the eggs be­cause “the con­tent is il­le­gal” but “not dan­ger­ous.”

You can reach the Na­tional Desk by call­ing (313) 222-2533.

Photos by Vadim Ghirda / AP

The eggs scan­dal has caused po­lit­i­cal fall­out, with Bel­gium, the Nether­lands and Ger­many squab­bling over who’s to blame.

Poul­try farm­ers have been hard­est hit in an eggs scan­dal in Europe. Ex­perts say the risk of get­ting sick from eat­ing an egg tainted with in­sec­ti­cide is low.

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