Insecticide levels prompt huge European egg recall

Eggs being destroyed at a poultry farm in Onstwedde, the Netherlands on Thursday. The eggs are being destroyed on the order of the Dutch Food and Welfare Authority after it was discovered they contain toxic levels of the pesticide fipronil. Photo by Patrick Huisman/EPA

Aug. 4 (UPI) — Grocers in three European countries recalled millions of eggs and destroyed millions more after multiple batches tested for high levels of the insecticide fipronil.

Investigators believe the tainted eggs originated in the Netherlands, which is Europe’s largest egg producer, making about 10 billion eggs per year. Fipronil is used to help ward off ticks and lice in poultry, but is banned for use on animals meant for human consumption. Consumption of fipronil by people in high doses over can cause liver and kidney damage.

In at least one batch of the eggs tested in Germany, the fipronil level was high enough that it could have caused illness in children who ate at least two of the eggs per day, according to a German agriculture official.

German regulators told the BBC it is not known how exactly many tainted eggs were bought and consumed before the problem was recognized but the number could top 10 million.

Grocery giant Aldi, which has 4,000 stores in Germany, said it is removing all eggs from its shelves as a precaution. Other grocers were abiding by lot-specific recalls depending on the farm of origin. The recalls so far are limited to Germany and the Netherlands, and Belgium has temporarily blocked the sale of Dutch eggs.

More than 180 Dutch chicken farms have temporarily been closed while follow-up examinations are completed.


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