Thousands of 'contaminated' Dutch eggs hit United Kingdom shelves

Thousands of 'contaminated' Dutch eggs hit United Kingdom shelves

Thousands of 'contaminated' Dutch eggs hit United Kingdom shelves

Nearly a week after the Dutch authorities shut numerous poultry farms after finding high levels of fipronil in batches of eggs and the recalling of eggs from the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium due to this banned insecticide for use on farm animals because of its danger to human health, Brussels significantly escalates the geographical scope of the scandal.

European Commission spokeswoman Anna-Kaisa Itkonen said she could not comment on the Belgian delay "because it's an ongoing criminal investigation".

Supermarket giant Aldi said it was a "purely precautionary" measure and added that eggs sold in its United Kingdom stores were produced in Britain.

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 unsafe to humans.

On Monday a Dutch farming group said millions of hens may need to be culled in the Netherlands after traces of fipronil were found in eggs there.

Photo Farm workers discarded eggs in Onstwedde, the Netherlands, last week after concern about insecticide contamination.

Discount supermarket chain Aldi, which has more than 4,000 stores in Germany, said on Friday it was pulling all eggs from store shelves in the country as a precaution after a scare over the possible contamination of eggs from the Netherlands.

It said that the number of eggs involved represents about 0.0001 per cent of the eggs imported into the United Kingdom each year. "Investigations to date indicate that any affected products are no longer on the shelves", it said.

The authorities suspect the substance, fipronil, was introduced to poultry farms by a Dutch business named Chickfriend that was brought in to treat red lice, a nasty parasite in chickens.

Dutch authorities have shuttered 138 poultry farms - about a 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.

Today it emerged, Belgian authorities have admitted they began investigating pesticide contamination in eggs in early June - several weeks before the public was made aware of a food safety scare affecting several European countries.

But it is banned from being used to treat animals destined for human consumption, such as chickens.

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