Contaminated eggs scandal: What is fipronil? What are its side effects? Is it dangerous?

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Hundreds of thousands of eggs potentially infected with a dangerous insecticide have been imported into Britain from Dutch farms, the Food Standards Agency has said.

The contaminated eggs have been infected with a pesticide named Fipronil, which is dangerous if consumed by humans, sparking a UK-wide scare over the popular food.

About 700,000 eggs are feared to be contaminated, and supermarkets have pulled egg products, including egg salads and sandwiches, from their shelves after the scare emerged.

As the news broke, worried shoppers were left wondering if the egg products they have recently consumed were contaminated with the dangerous insecticide. Here we explain the issue.

What is Fipronil?

It is an anti-tick and flea pesticide which is banned in products which are destined for the human food chain.

Fipronil: A laboratory technician of the Bavarian State Office of Health and Food Safety checks eggs for the harmful insecticide. (REUTERS)

What are the effects of consuming it?

Adverse effects include sweating, nausea, vomiting, headache, stomach pain, dizziness, weakness, and seizures, according to the US National Pesticide Information Centre.

How did the contamination start?

Police launched an investigation into the illegal use of Fipronil on poultry farms and said dozens of raids have taken place in the Netherlands.

Egg ‘scandal’: About 700,000 are feared to be contaminated, and supermarkets have pulled some egg products from their shelves. (REUTERS)

How widespread is the problem?

The Food Standards Agency said the 700,000 potentially infected eggs imported to the UK represent 0.007 per cent of the eggs consumed in the UK every year and it was “very unlikely” there is any risk to public health from consuming these foods.

What’s happening in other European countries?

Millions of eggs have been pulled from supermarket shelves in Germany as well as Belgium and the Netherlands, while 40 eggs from a farm affected by Fipronil have been found at a baker in Denmark. 

Luxembourg said it had received eggs from a Belgian producer which were found to contain Fipronil while in Romania, 1,000 kilograms of eggs will be incinerated.

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