Dutch poison egg alert hits the UK

In the latest food scare, it appears that 700,000 eggs which may have been contaminated with the pesticide fipronil, originating from farms in the Netherlands and Belgium, have entered the UK supply chain.

In the latest food scare, it appears that 700,000 eggs which may have been contaminated with the pesticide fipronil, originating from farms in the Netherlands and Belgium, have entered the UK supply chain. Four leading UK supermarkets have withdrawn products from their shelves in response to the contamination scare.

Initially, the Food Standards Agency said that just 21,000 of these eggs had been imported to Britain between March and June and while the public health threat remained ‘very low’, the FSA was ‘urgently’ investigating where they may have been sold. Having stated that the contaminated eggs were no longer on sale in Britain, a few days later the FSA issued an update saying that “more eggs from affected farms than previously identified came to the UK”. It continued: “The products affected are processed foods in which egg is one ingredient among many others, mostly used in sandwich fillings or other chilled foods.” In response, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Asda withdrew egg salads from their stores; Morrisons withdrew sandwiches; and Waitrose withdrew sandwich fillers.

The FSA said: “The decision to withdraw these products is not due to food safety concerns, but is based on the fact that fipronil is not authorised for use in food producing animals. The Food Standards Agency and Food Standards Scotland are committed to ensuring that food is safe, and that UK consumers have food they can trust.”

Fipronil, which is used to treat ticks and lice in chickens, can harm humans’ kidneys, liver and thyroid glands. It has been reported that the chemical may have originated in contaminated detergent used to clean barns. According to a German official, up to 10 million contaminated eggs may have been sold in Germany. The contaminated eggs have been exported to 15 EU countries as well as to Hong Kong and Switzerland.

In the Netherlands, 180 poultry farms were temporarily closed for investigation and millions of hens may need to be culled. Some European supermarkets halted the distribution of eggs as a precautionary measure. Worryingly, Belgian authorities admitted that they had been aware of possible pesticide contamination in eggs since early June, several weeks before the public was made aware of the potential danger.

With the UK importing 1.8bn eggs a year, this latest incident once again highlights the risk of contaminated products entering the supply chain and their widespread impact given the global nature of today’s food industry. With consumers increasingly demanding more information about food safety and provenance, food companies are now expected to have insight into every link in their supply chain. Fortunately, the Authenticate IS platform uses the latest technology to map the entire journey of every ingredient from farm to fork, giving comprehensive, real time information at the click of a button.

For more information about how to join the Authenticate IS platform or maximise your membership and safeguard your food business, call us on 01423 548 583 or email enquiries@authenticateis.com

Posted by: Authenticate 03/10/2017