Dutch egg scandal puts consumer health at risk

Τhe Dutch food authority said that about 180 poultry farms had been closed due to the presence of fipronil. [Rob and Stephanie Levy/ Flickr]

Hundreds of thousands of Dutch eggs have been declared unsuitable for consumption as they contained high quantities of fipronil, an insecticide that is toxic to humans.

The Dutch food and product safety board (NVWA) revealed the scandal and raised the alarm this week about eggs that have been contaminated and pose a severe threat to consumers.

It stressed that the level of fipronil was “so high that their consumption represents a serious danger to public health”. It also advised buyers of these eggs “not to eat them and throw them away”.

Fipronil is an insecticide used against lice, ticks and fleas. For the World Health Organisation (WHO), fipronil is “moderately toxic” but in high concentrations, it could have dangerous effects on kidney, liver and thyroid gland function.

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NVWA said that about 180 poultry farms had been closed due to the presence of the fipronil.

According to press reports in the Netherlands, NVWA admitted that contaminated eggs have been in stores in the country for as long as a year and a huge amount of eggs have been transferred to Germany.

“We cannot check that anymore because those eggs are already eaten,” a spokesperson told newspaper Volkskrant.

ChickFriend, the company behind the scandal, treated some poultry farms for blood lice in June last year already.

It said that it used a pesticide it got from a Belgian supplier and now there is an ongoing investigation about whether the Dutch company was aware of the toxic insecticide.

The breeders, who would face heavy financial losses, believe that Chickfriend duped them.

Erik Hubers from the Dutch agricultural association told the NOS broadcaster, “The company appears to have mixed the illegal substance with a legal one to improve its effectiveness.”

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