700,000 Eggs Linked to EU Scare Exported to Britain
About 700,000 eggs from Dutch farms implicated in a contamination scare have been distributed to Britain and some supermarket products have been withdrawn, the Food Standards Agency has said, quoted by the Guardian.
The FSA said investigations into the fipronil incident in Europe suggested it was “very unlikely” that the eggs posed a risk to public health, but the number of contaminated eggs estimated to have reached the UK is far higher than the 21,000 first estimated.
Products withdrawn include salads from Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Asda plus sandwiches from Waitrose and Morrisons.
The FSA added that some of the products made from these eggs will have had a short shelf life and will have already been consumed, but some were still within the expiry date and were being withdrawn by the businesses involved.
The contamination scare became public on 1 August when it was revealed that tests had found that fipronil, which is banned across the EU from use in the production of foodstuffs, had found its way into the food chain.
Exposure to fipronil can cause nausea, vomiting, headaches and dizziness. Long-term exposure to large quantities can cause thyroid, liver and kidney damage, and even lead to seizures.
Authorities in the Netherlands ordered eggs pulled from supermarket shelves, and temporarily closed down about 180 farms. Millions of eggs were subsequently removed from sale in Belgium and Germany.
On Monday the European commission said British food safety authorities were alerted over the weekend that eggs imported from Germany could be dangerous. Officials in France, Sweden and Switzerland were also informed of a risk to consumers.
The FSA had originally said British food safety inspectors were trying to trace 21,000 eggs imported from affected farms in the Netherlands between March and June.
Prof Chris Elliott, director of the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University Belfast, praised the watchdog’s quick response to the crisis but warned it could be difficult to track down the eggs.
The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) says the highest amount of fipronil measured was 1.2mg per kg of egg. Based on this, the BfR calculates that an adult weighing 65kg (143lb) would be able to eat up to seven eggs within 24 hours and still be within the safe range.
The BfR calculates that a child weighing 16.15kg (35.6lb) should not eat more than 1.7 contaminated eggs within 24 hours.
The German Nutrition Society in general recommends not eating more than three eggs per week.
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