Two Men Face Court For Fripronil Egg Scandal

  • Friday, 01 September 2017 10:00
  • Published in Business News
  • Read 382 times

A scandal involving eggs contaminated with insecticide containing fipronil spread to 15 European countries, and even to Hong Kong and South Korea.

The eggs contaminated with herbal pesticide allegedly contained massive amounts of the banned substance fipronil. The two Dutch managers who sold the pesticide will be held pending further investigations into the scandal.

"The public prosecution service suspects the two managers of a disinfection company of using fipronil at poultry farms in the Netherlands," the Dutch court said in a statement. "Thereby they endangered public health, and there are suspicions they knew that the biocide was banned."

Fipronil is highly toxic and used as a pesticide to protect crops as well as in veterinary medicine to kill off fleas, lice, ticks, roaches and mites. It is not allowed anywhere near animals in the food production chain, including chicken, and is banned by the European Union from use in the food industry.

Ministers and food safety chiefs from around the European Union are set to meet on September 26 to discuss the egg scare involving the chemical.

Authorities only publicly announced on 1 August 2017 that they had detected the banned substance in eggs that had been distributed across Europe, leading to millions of eggs being pulled from supermarket shelves and destroyed, and dozens of poultry farms being closed.

Millions of eggs have been pulled from supermarket shelves across Europe and dozens of poultry farms have closed since the discovery of fipronil contamination, which can harm human health. Hong Kong had also received contaminated eggs from the Netherlands.

Belgian authorities claimed that Dutch authorities were tipped off about the substance in November 2016 but had not alerted European authorities. Belgian authorities knew about the scandal in June but also did not say anything until late July this year.

The European Union insists the chemical does not harm human health, but the World Health Organisation says that when eaten in large quantities, the substance can harm people's kidneys, liver and thyroid glands.

The scandal was estimated to have cost poultry farms at least 150 million euros (US$175 million).

The food scare is one of the biggest to hit Europe since the 2013 horsemeat scandal, when horsemeat was falsely labelled and sold to consumers.

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