Hong Kong is among 17 markets affected by a toxic European egg scandal
dpa Friday, August 11, 2017, 7:13 pm TWN
BRUSSELS/PARIS — A total of 17 countries, including Hong Kong, have been affected by the widening scandal in Europe involving eggs contaminated with the insecticide fipronil, the European Commission said on Friday.
Contaminated eggs have been distributed to European Union members Sweden, France, Britain, Austria, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Denmark, said Daniel Rosario, a spokesman for the commission.
Two non-EU countries, Switzerland and Hong Kong, have also received contaminated products originating from affected poultry farms in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and France that have been treated with fipronil.
The commission said it was planning to convene an EU ministerial meeting on Sept. 26 to "draw relevant lessons" from the scandal.
Meanwhile, French authorities said that almost a quarter of a million contaminated eggs were imported to France between April and July, noting there are no health concerns.
A batch of 196,000 contaminated Belgian eggs was put on sale between April and May and consumed "without any observed health impact," the French Agriculture Ministry said.
Another batch of 48,000 contaminated eggs from the Netherlands were imported in July. Remaining eggs from that batch were withdrawn from sale after the scandal over the use of the product broke.
Fipronil is a common ingredient in veterinary products for getting rid of fleas, lice and ticks in animals. It is banned from use on animals destined for human consumption. It can cause damage to the liver, thyroid glands and kidneys if consumed in large quantities.
The Agriculture Ministry said that the low levels of fipronil in the contaminated eggs, taking into consideration French dietary habits, meant that the risk to human health was very minor.
France's national food safety body, ANSES, said that an adult weighing 70 kilograms would have to consume at least 10 eggs in one go to be at risk of acute poisoning, and even in such cases, the effects were "generally benign."
The French announcement came after supermarket giant Aldi said it would put eggs back on shelves across Germany after stopping sales nationwide.
Aldi, a discount chain, said customers could expect fresh eggs back in stores from Friday. Ongoing testing for traces of the insecticide might result in a shortage of eggs in isolated cases, it said.
Last week, Aldi removed all eggs as a "pure precaution" to provide consumers with "clarity and transparency," although there was no evidence of actual contamination in their produce.
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