Published: Tue, August 08, 2017
Money | By Oscar Reynolds

Millions of chickens face cull across Europe over insecticide-tainted eggs scandal

Millions of chickens face cull across Europe over insecticide-tainted eggs scandal

In large quantities, the insecticide is considered to be "moderately hazardous" according to the World Health Organization, and can have unsafe effects on people's kidneys, liver and thyroid glands.

Belgium now has production blocked from 51 farms - a quarter of those nationwide - with fipronil found at 21 farms, although levels were ten times below the maximum European Union limit, the country's food safety authority AFSCA said.

"We have known since early June there was potentially a problem with fipronil in the poultry sector", Belgium's food safety agency spokeswoman Katrien Stragier told the BBC.

Retailers across other European Union countries have now pulled millions of eggs from their supermarkets' shelves over the scare, and it was also reported that millions of hens in the Netherlands may need to be culled because of the contamination.

Supermarket giant Aldi said it was a "purely precautionary" measure and added that eggs sold in its United Kingdom stores were produced in Britain.

Unilever also said its products were not affected by the recall and remained "safe for sale and consumption".

The watchdog initially stated on Friday (4 August) there was "no evidence that UK-produced eggs are affected or that contaminated products have entered the United Kingdom market".

A Dutch farming organisation has said that several million hens may need to be culled at 150 companies in the country, with 300,000 having already been killed.

Dutch investigators believe the insecticide was illegitimately used in a cleaning product to treat red mite in poultry houses.

Around 180 poultry companies in the Netherlands, the second-largest agricultural exporter after the United States, have been temporarily closed.

GERMAN Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt on Saturday expressed concern about news that Belgian authorities first learned about the possible contamination of eggs with an insecticide in June, a month before the issue became public.

Fipronil can treat lice and ticks in chickens, but should not be used on food-producing animals because of its toxicity.

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