Millions of eggs have been removed from supermarket shelves across Europe after the Food Standards Agency (FSA) said that around 700,000 eggs could be contaminated with insecticide Fipronil. It is believed that the insecticide, which is used to kill lice and mites, became mixed with a cleaning product routinely used in chicken coops.
Originally, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) said that only around 21,000 eggs were contaminated with Fipronil, which is thought to have entered the UK from Dutch producers, but this figure has now increased dramatically.
Despite the increased number of suspected contaminated eggs, the FSA says that it is unlikely those that are contaminated pose a risk to public health. Products affected are processed foods in which egg is one ingredient among many others, mostly used in sandwich fillings or other chilled foods.
“Many of the eggs involved were mixed with other eggs that have not come from affected farms so Fipronil residues will be highly diluted. It is likely that the number of eggs that have come to the UK is closer to 700,000 rather than the 21,000 we previously believed had been imported,” says the FSA.
“Some of the contaminated egg products will have had a short shelf life and will have already been consumed,” it adds.
While some 85% of the eggs consumed in the UK are laid here and there is no evidence to suggest UK-produced eggs are contaminated with Fipronil, businesses are being urged to check the source of their eggs. They should inform the FSA and relevant local authorities immediately “if they have any reason to believe that a food that they have imported, produced, processed or distributed does not comply with food safety requirements,” says the FSA.
“The number of eggs involved is small in proportion to the number of eggs we eat, and it is very unlikely that there is a risk to public health,” says FSA chairman Heather Hancock.