The Netherlands has come under fire for failing to report that eggs were tainted with insecticides despite knowing about the problem since last November. These accusations come from Belgium, where these eggs were being sold to consumers, in addition to other countries in Europe.
The latest food safety scandal emerged when Netherlands pulled out all the eggs from the market and asked its consumer countries to do the same after an insecticide known as fipronil was discovered in the eggs.
Newly appointed Agriculture Minister Denis Ducarme told a parliamentary hearing that Belgian’s food safety agency obtained an internal Dutch document that “reports the observation of the presence of fipronil in Dutch eggs at the end of November 2016.”
“When a country like the Netherlands, one of the world’s biggest exporters of eggs, does not pass on this kind of information, that is a real problem,” said Ducarme, adding he has demanded an explanation from his Dutch colleagues.
The Dutch food and goods watchdog NVWA rejected the claim.
“The allegations that we knew about fipronil in eggs in November 2016 are untrue,” NVWA inspector-general Rob van Lint said in a statement.
However, he admitted his body received an “anonymous tip-off” in November 2016 that fipronil had indeed been used to clean chicken pens in order to combat red lice.
“At that time there was no indication of an acute danger to food safety. There was not a single indication that fipronil could also be present in eggs,” van Lint said.
Fipronil is mostly used in veterinary products to eradicate fleas, lice and ticks but it is banned by the EU from being used to treat animals which are used for human consumption. The insecticide can be ‘moderately hazardous’ and can have adverse effects on people’s kidneys, liver and thyroid glands.