EU says Dutch egg scandal 'under control' as farmers decry sales ban


The European Commission reassured consumers on Thursday that eggs from the Netherlands potentially contaminated by the insecticide fipronil had been removed from grocers' shelves.

Food safety authorities in the Netherlands had warned consumers one day earlier to avoid eggs stamped with certain codes after fipronil, which at heightened levels can cause damage to the liver, thyroid and kidneys, was found in eggs from 28 processing centres in the Netherlands and one in Germany.

A total of 180 Dutch plants were closed until the results of testing for the insecticide had been reviewed.

"The contaminated eggs have been traced and withdrawn from the market and the situation is under control," EU Commission Spokeswoman Anna-Kaisa Itkonen said.

An association of Dutch poultry farmers also sought to reassure consumers and criticized the sales ban on Dutch eggs in German supermarkets.

"All Dutch eggs that are reaching markets now are guaranteed free of fipronil," Eric Hubers, the association's chairman, said Thursday on Dutch radio.

The night before, the grocery store chain Rewe and its discount subsidiary Penny had announced that they would be removing all eggs from the Netherlands from supermarket shelves.

Hubers described the measures and warnings, which had also taken hold in his own country, to be exaggerated. "This is fear-mongering, because you know there are no risks," he said.

All of the plants in question had cleaned their premises with the same anti-lice agent, which had the prohibited insecticide as an additive.

The poultry farmers are expecting significant losses because of the scandal, particularly since 60 to 70 per cent of Dutch eggs are exported, mainly to Germany.

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