More eggs contaminated with fipronil; egg-containing products safe

Dutch food and consumer product safety authority NVWA added codes of another 14 poultry companies to its list of eggs contaminated with toxic insecticide fipronil. Foods that contain contaminated eggs are safe to eat, according to the federation of the Dutch foodstuffs industry FNLI based on its own research, reports.

Eggs are used in a multitude of products, including mayonnaise, cake, ice cream, bread, pasta, cereal and chocolate. If any of these products contain fipronil contaminated eggs, the concentration of fipronil will be so low that it does not pose a health risk, FNLI director Marian Geluk said, according to the newspaper. According to her, for now there is no need to recall any of these products from the shelves. Geluk could not say how many products were investigated, or in how many fipronil was found. 

Food watchdog Foodwatch thinks it's too early to conclude that no food products are contaminated with too high levels of fipronil. "It is totally unclear which foods have now been tested for fipronil", the organization said. The watchdog also can't understand why the NVWA left this investigation in the hands of the food industry itself. "The inspection service must put public health at number one and stop looking at food scandals through economic glasses."

According to the NVWA, the sector "is responsible for ensuring that safe products are on the market". 

Last week millions of eggs were recalled from thousands of supermarkets for containing too high levels of fipronil. The 14 new companies added to the NVWA's list reported themselves to the authority - they were not in the administration of ChickFriend, the Barneveld pest control company seen as the source of the fipronil contamination. 

Supermarkets will need at least to the end of this week to restock their egg shelves, Rene Roorda, director of the central bureau of foodstuffs CBL, said on Monday, according to "In many supermarkets the shelves are pretty empty, we are busy replenishing everything." The eggs still on the shelf are safe, according to Roorda. But he can't rule out that more eggs will be recalled, as the NVWA keeps updating its list. 

So far over 300 thousand chickens were killed because they were contaminated with fipronil, agricultural trade association LTO Nederland said to broadcaster NOS on Sunday. "This especially involves chickens who were already going to be slaughtered because of their high age", Erik Hubers of LTO's poultry department said to the broadcaster. Farmers can "detoxify" the chickens by putting them on a special diet. "But if chickens are already at a high age, that does not make any sense. Then they go to the slaughter."

One of the slaughtering companies involved, who wanted to remain anonymous, estimates that about a million chickens will be slaughtered in the coming weeks, a spokesperson said to NOS.

"For the chicken farmers, this is very painful", Hennie de Haan of the Dutch union for poultry farmers NVP said to the broadcaster. "Nobody wants this, but in some cases it's the only option. By slaughtering the chickens you as poultry farmer can start with a clean slate."

On Monday afternoon six animal organizations are protesting in Drenthe against the slaughter of fipronil contaminated chickens. The organizations involved are Comité Dierennoodhulp, Levende Have, Een dier een vriend, Rechten voor al wat leeft, Konijn in Nood and Stichting Dierennood. They previously went to court to try and stop poultry farmers from killing their contaminated animals for a "purely monetary reason", but the court ruled against them, according to 

The NVWA's full list of contaminated eggs can be seen here.