Fipronil scare: Germany recalls thousands of contaminated eggs

GERMANY: 6 German states have been told to pull some 73,000 eggs from sale after residue was detected from an insecticide called Fipronil.

Fipronil is classed as a WHO Class II moderately hazardous pesticide. Fipronil is a “highly toxic” pesticide which could be harmful if ingested but you’d need to have eaten a very large quantity of contaminated eggs for that to happen.

The new contaminated batch of eggs from the Netherlands arrived on supermarket shelves in Lower Saxony, Baden-Württemberg, Hesse, Bavaria, Schleswig-Holstein and North Rhine-Westphalia, the ministry said Monday. A recall of the eggs has been initiated.

Agriculture officials from Lower Saxony said that eggs had come from an organic farm in the Netherlands and insisted there was no risk to human health.

Last year millions of eggs were pulled from supermarket shelves across Europe because of a fipronil scare. A toxic anti-lice agent fipronil, banned from use in products for human consumption, found its way into millions of chicken eggs. These eggs were distributed to 15 European Union countries, Switzerland, and Hong Kong.

Officials said they had now detected traces of the insecticide in samples from a packaging depot in the German town of Vechta.

The residue was above the permitted EU level of 0.005mg per kg, but it was “well below a rate that would constitute a risk to health”, they said. The highest test showed a level of 0.019mg/kg.

The eggs came from an organic hen farm and were delivered between 17 May and 4 June.

The source of the latest discovery is still being investigated.

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The Dutch poultry industry was hit hard by last year’s insecticide crisis, when millions of eggs had to be taken off the market in Germany and other European countries, and several hen farms had to be closed in the Netherlands. Ten farms closed at that time have yet to reopen.

Dutch food and consumer safety authority NVWA said it was monitoring whether the detection of fipronil had anything to do with the recent lifting of measures imposed amid fears of bird flu requiring farmers to keep free-range hens indoors.

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