UK estimates 700,000 eggs affected by European food scandal

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Share on Twitter (opens new window) Share on Facebook (opens new window) Share on LinkedIn (opens new window) Save to myFT 6 HOURS AGO by: Mehreen Khan, Jim Brunsden Around 700,000 eggs imported into the UK have been contaminated by a banned toxic substance, according to Britain’s Food Standards Agency, far exceeding an initial estimate of 21,000 in an escalating scandal with origins in the Netherlands and Belgium. The FSA said it was “very unlikely” the eggs posed a public health risk to British consumers, but it has asked businesses to withdraw products that would have been made with eggs containing banned insecticide Fipronil. “The decision to withdraw these products is not due to food safety concerns, but is based on the fact that Fipronil is not authorised for use in food producing animals”, said the FSA. Media reports in Belgium and the Netherlands said that two executives from Dutch company Chickfriend have been arrested as a result of the raids carried out this week. Fipronil only poses a danger to human health if ingested in large quantities. Knowledge of the contamination emerged earlier this month, when retailer Aldi pulled products off the shelves of its German supermarkets after Fipronil was detected in French, Belgian and Dutch poultry farms. The scandal has sparked recriminations between European countries, with Belgium being accused of not acting fast enough to trigger an EU-wide alert system. But Belgium’s agriculture minster has pointed the finger at neighbouring Dutch authorities for not informing the country’s officials sooner. The insecticide has been traced back to a cleaning product in the Netherlands. Belgium has an ignominious history with food scandals. A contamination crisis helped bring down the government in 1999 when carcinogenic substance dioxin entered the food chain through animal feed.