UK Hikes Estimate of Pesticide Contaminated Eggs; No Public Health Risk Expected

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Around 21,000 eggs contaminated with the insecticide fipronil were thought to have been imported into the United Kingdom, but the true figure has now been revealed to be much higher, at 700,000.

The scandal revolves around the chemical insecticide Fipronil which is used in veterinary products to treat ticks and fleas.

Today Dutch and Belgian police conducted raids as part of an investigation into the use of a harmful pesticide in the poultry industry, the Dutch prosecution service said. The move followed the decision of the Netherlands' product safety authority (NVWA), which had blocked the supplies of eggs from 180 farms due to the scandal.

"All the products contained eggs from the contaminated breeders will be pulled from sale to be evaluated", the minister explained in his statement.

"It is likely that the number of [affected] eggs that have come to the United Kingdom is closer to 700,000 than the 21,000 we previously believed had been imported", the government agency said in a statement.

The EU countries affected are Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Sweden, Britain, Austria, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Denmark, along with non-EU Switzerland, and Hong Kong, Rosario said.

Stephane Travert said on RMC radio Friday that some 244,000 eggs imported from the Netherlands and Belgium and sold in France were affected by the contamination from pesticide Fipronil. The World Health Organization considers fipronil to be moderately toxic and says very large quantities can cause organ damage.

Danish food authorities said contaminated boiled and peeled eggs were mostly sold to cafes and caterers, stressing that the level of the insecticide in the eggs was too low to pose a health risk to humans. So far, no one has reported falling sick from the tainted eggs.

"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".

Farms which used the cleaning product have been subjected to stringent testing.

European Commission spokeswoman Anna-Kaisa Itkonen said that Netherlands, Belgium and Germany warned other countries about the possibility of having exported contaminated eggs to them. It is a joint action by the Dutch and Belgian authorities.