Eggs contaminated with insecticide may have entered UK, officials warn

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Eggs contaminated with insecticide may have entered the UK, officials have warned.

British food safety authorities were alerted over the weekend that eggs imported from Germany could be dangerous, the European Commission said.

The Food Standards Agency said “a very small number of eggs” from farms in Europe at the centre of the contamination scare have been distributed in the UK.

It said the risk to public health “is very low”.

Food safety authorities in Sweden, Switzerland and France have also been informed, Anna-Kaisa Itkonen, a spokeswoman for the European Commission said.

Millions of eggs were recalled from shops and warehouses in Germany and the Netherlands and blocked from sale in Belgium last week after some were found to have high levels of fipronil, a toxic insecticide.

Fipronil is a common ingredient in veterinary products for getting rid of lice, fleas and ticks but is banned from use in the production of food for human consumption.

The World Health Organisation said the toxic substance could damage the liver, thyroid glands and kidneys if ingested over large amounts of time.

Reported adverse effects from consumption include sweating, nausea, vomiting, head and stomach pain, dizziness and seizures, according to the US National Pesticide Information Centre.

“The number of eggs involved represents about 0.0001 per cent of the eggs imported into the UK each year,” the FSA said.

“Our risk assessment, based on all the information available, indicates that as part of a normal healthy diet this low level of potential exposure is unlikely to be a risk to public health and there is no need for consumers to be concerned.”

The FSA said it was urgently investigating but that it believed the contaminated eggs were no longer on sale within the UK.

Britain produces 85 per cent of the eggs it consumes but imports almost two billion annually, the FSA added.

The British Egg Industry Council said there was no need to “change the way they cook or consume eggs” and that buyers should look for the British Lion mark to ensure they are getting “safe British eggs”.

It is believed the scare started in the Netherlands and Belgium and that Dutch disinfectant is at fault.

Over the weekend, it emerged that Belgium knew eggs from Dutch farms could be contaminated with an insecticide a month before the issue was made public.

Belgium’s food safety agency said fipronil was found in Dutch eggs after tests were carried out but the results were not shared due to a fraud investigation.

A spokeswoman said: “We knew since early June there was potentially a problem with fipronil in the poultry sector.

“We immediately launched an investigation and we also informed the prosecutor because it was a matter of possible fraud.”

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