Europe's toxic egg scandal spreads to 17 countries
A total of 17 countries, including Hong Kong, have been affected by a widening scandal in Europe involving eggs contaminated with the insecticide fipronil.
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 European 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.
Fipronil, which is banned by the EU's food industry, had been linked to a Dutch supplier of cleaning products by authorities. It is a common ingredient in veterinary products for getting rid of fleas, lice and ticks in animals.
Fipronil can cause damage to the liver, thyroid glands and kidneys if consumed in large quantities.
After two arrests were made in the Netherlands on Thursday (Friday NZ time), the commission said it was planning to convene an EU ministerial meeting on September 26 to "draw relevant lessons" from the scandal.
French authorities said that almost a quarter of a million contaminated eggs were imported to France between April and July, noting there were 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 was imported in July. Remaining eggs from that batch were withdrawn from sale after the scandal over the use of the product broke.
A joint Belgian-Dutch task force raided eight poultry farms in the Netherlands this week, with two arrests made on individuals suspected of endangering public health.
Millions of eggs have been pulled from supermarket shelves across Europe since the scandal was reported by poultry farms in July.
However, some national regulators have expressed concern that other products that may have been contaminated by fipronil, such as cakes and biscuits, had still not been withdrawn from sale.