Dutch food safety authority accused of fear mongering with eggs warning

Agricultural organization LTO Nederland is furious that the Dutch food and consumer product safety authority NVWA advised consumers to show restraint in eating eggs until the results of an investigation into eggs' fipronil content are in. "That is a terrible and unnecessary statement", Eric Huber, chairman of the poultry farm department, said to Radio 1 Journaal on Wednesday. "It leads to unnecessary unrest among consumers."

On Tuesday Freek van Zoeren of the NVWA said on Nieuwsuur that it is smarter to rather not eat eggs until the weekend, when the NVWA investigation results are expected. "If someone says: I can survive without eating an egg until Sunday, I would advise that", he said.

The NVWA released a list of 27 company codes of eggs that may be unsafe for children to eat because they may contain too high concentrations of insecticide fipronil. The World Health Organization considers fipronil to be "moderately toxic" to humans. High concentrations of the insecticide could damage the liver, kidneys and thyroid gland.

But LTO Nederland stresses that all the eggs of the 200 at risk companies have now been recalled or destroyed. "We as sector did not wait for the results", Hubers said, according to NU.nl. "Therefore it is incomprehensible that the NVWA is saddling consumers with this uncertainty. The consequences of such a statement for the sector are very serious."

The poultry sector also emphasizes that there are very low levels of fipronil in the eggs. "It is good that food safety is so strictly enforced in the Netherlands, but you really have to eat hundreds of eggs if you want to run any health risk", Hubers said.

According to a NVWA spokesperson, Van Zoeren was only talking about eggs that are stamped with the codes released by the NVWA. "Mr. Van Zoeren wasn't talking about all eggs. It was only about the eggs of companies with the codes communicated by us", the spokesperson said to Omroep Gelderland.

The NVWA expects to have clarity by this weekend which of the 200 at risk companies actually have eggs with higher than the allowed amount of fipronil content, according to NU.nl. The authority is also investigating which foods these eggs were used in. Eggs are used in a wide variety of products, including mayonnaise, ready meals, ice cream, bread, pasta, cereal and chocolate. According to the NVWA, if there is fipronil in these products, it will likely be very diluted.