Aug. 11 (UPI) — The health commissioner of the European Union has called for an emergency summit over millions of potentially pesticide-tainted eggs in at least 15 member nations — which have spawned criminal investigations and led to the arrests of two people.
Eggs containing the banned insecticide Fipronil have so far been found in more than half the EU nations, along with Switzerland and Hong Kong, officials said.
“I proposed to hold a high-level meeting gathering the ministers concerned as well as the representatives of the food safety agencies in all member states involved as soon as we have all the facts available,” EU Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis said in a statement, which urged cooperation among nations. “Blaming and shaming will bring us nowhere and I want to stop this.
“We need to work together to draw lessons learned, and move forward instead of losing energy on finger pointing.”
Andriukaitis said he’d like the summit to happen by the end of next month.
Criminal investigations are underway in Belgium and in the Netherlands, where two firms allegedly sold the chemical to a Dutch company specializing in sanitizing poultry farms. More than 100 poultry farms have been shut down in the Netherlands, Europe’s largest egg producer.
Dutch prosecutors announced Thursday that two people were arrested by a joint Belgian-Dutch task force related to the Fiprionil contamination on poultry farms.
About 700,000 eggs, mostly imported from the Netherlands, have been recalled in Britain. The figure is up from the 21,000 first estimated, but remains a small percentage of eggs consumed in Europe; 34 million per day are consumed in Britain alone.
Britain’s Food Standards Agency said a risk to public health, at this point, is unlikely.
French Agriculture Minister Stephane Travert said Friday about 250,000 potentially tainted eggs have been removed from grocery shelves in her country since April. Officials in Denmark, Romania and Luxembourg reported that some of the contaminated eggs have been sold in their countries, BBC News reported Friday.
Fipronil is a disinfectant used to kill lice and ticks on animals. It can damage humans’ kidneys, liver and thyroid glands if ingested in large quantities.