Supermarkets using cheap foreign imports caused contamination scandal, boss of British egg standards says

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Major supermarkets are to blame for the contaminated egg scandal because they use cheap foreign produce in their sandwiches and salads, the boss of British eggs standards has claimed.

British Lion Egg Processors chairman Ian Jones accused retailers of “double standards” which had contributed to the scare.

He said supermarkets stocked British Lion quality shell eggs, but used imported eggs in many other products such as pre-made sandwiches.

Around 700,000 eggs distributed in Britain are feared to be contaminated with the pesticide Fipronil, which is dangerous if consumed by humans.

Mr Jones said: “The major retailers are operating to double standards when it comes to eggs.

“All of them stock British Lion shell eggs but they use imported eggs in many of their other foods containing eggs.

“This is just the latest of a number of food safety issues connected to eggs produced outside of the UK in recent years. Consumers clearly want retailers and food manufacturers to use good-quality British ingredients that are produced to high standards of food safety, but in some prepared foods this is not the case.”

Egg scare explained

Around 700,000 potentially infected eggs have been imported into Britain from Dutch farms, according to the Food Standards Agency. The affected eggs have been contaminated with an insecticide called Fipronil.

What is Fipronil?

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

What are the effects of consuming Fipronil?

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.

Mr Jones’ comments came as it emerged around 700,000 potentially contaminated eggs from Dutch farms have been distributed in Britain – widening the scare from the mere 21,000 eggs initially estimated.

In response, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Waitrose and Asda have withdrawn a total of 11 products – including sandwiches, sandwich fillers and salads – from sale.

The Food Standards Agency said investigations into the incident suggested it was “very unlikely” that the eggs posed a risk to public health as it released a list of processed products withdrawn in the UK “to ensure that consumers are protected”.

The move came as Dutch investigators detained two men suspected of being involved in the illegal use of the pesticide at poultry farms.

FSA chairwoman Heather Hancock said: “I’m confident that acting quickly is the right thing to do.

“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.

“Based on the available evidence there is no need for people to change the way they consume or cook eggs.”

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

Eggs marked with the British Lion Egg Producers stamp are compliant with a code of practice, ensuring standards relating to salmonella, animal welfare and freshness.

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