Tuesday

22nd May 2018

Bad information increases contaminated eggs scare

  • Hundred of thousands of chickens have already been culled as a precaution. (Photo: mamichan)

The Belgian parliament is to hold an extraordinary meeting over the spread of contaminated eggs, as new information has raised questions on the efficiency of the EU's alert system.

Belgian agriculture and health ministers Denis Ducarme and Maggie De Block will be heard by MEPs on Wednesday (9 August), in order to clarify why it took authorities more that a month to raise the alert over potentially toxic eggs.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

On Saturday, a spokeswoman for the Belgian food agency admitted that it had known since early June that there was "potentially a problem" with fipronil, a highly toxic pesticide, finding its way into eggs.

Although the eggs were removed from some supermarkets in July, the information was only passed on to other countries late in the month.

The contamination of eggs with fipronil originated in three farms in the Netherlands, where millions of eggs have been taken off the shelves, as well as in Germany.

Over the weekend, the Netherlands and Germany released information that eggs were also exported to Sweden, Switzerland, France and the UK.

Between 300,000 and 350,000 chickens have already been killed as a precaution in the Netherlands.

"We follow this very very closely," European Commission spokeswoman Anna-Kaisa Itkone said on Monday.

She insisted that "all the eggs are traceable and trackable", but the commission admitted that it didn't know the real extent of the problem.

The EU executive has no power to recommend safety measures or order eggs to be removed from the market, but it manages the alert system.

"Our job here is to disseminate information on the basis of whenever food products are circulated freely in our internal market," commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva told journalists, also on Monday.

She said that national authorities are "best placed" to make recommendations.

"In order to do our job we first need the information to arrive from one of the member states, in order for us for to disseminate [it] within the system - what we have done," she added, suggesting that some countries, like Belgium, did not properly follow the procedures.

Dutch and Belgian prosecutors are investigating why and how a toxic pesticide made its way into eggs and how these eggs could be sold in several countries for several weeks.

“From what we can tell, someone clearly had the criminal intent to contaminate with a foreign substance,” German agriculture minister Christian Schmidt told Bild newspaper last week.

In Brussels, the commission is trying to assess the scale of the problem. Discussions are being held with national experts, but no talks at a political level are planned for now.

"We stay in touch with national authorities. Our priority is to make sure that national authorities take their responsibility of informing consumers precisely on what is going on," said Itkonen.

EU 'must frame new animal welfare rules'

Ministers from northern and western European states have called for a new EU-wide strategy, but the EU commission says there is a lack of broad support for more rules.

Interview

Cheap meat is a bigger problem for climate and health

A leading scholar of sustainability issues has called on the EU to introduce protectionist food policies that impose tough health and environmental standards in order to stop the imports of cheap and poor quality meat.

Opinion

Danish pigs are bacteria 'time bomb'

Six out of ten breeding pigs exported from Denmark to other EU countries are infected with bacteria that can be passed to humans. But producers and authorities are doing nothing.

Egg scare prompts review of EU alert systems

Health ministers' meeting called to discuss improvements to EU alert systems, but Danish and French authorities said pesticide levels in eggs too low to harm people.

MEPs call for Fukushima food data to be made public

A majority of the parliament's food safety committee adopted a text that warned of an increased risk of "radioactive contaminated food" from Japan, but one MEP said the text was full of "alternative facts".

Athens mayor wants direct access to EU migration fund

The European Commission wants to triple the amount of money for migration in the next EU budget. Earlier this week, EU agencies, NGOs, and the mayor of Athens gave their views at a European parliament public hearing.

News in Brief

  1. Unknown professor proposed as Italy's new prime minister
  2. 154 German economists warn against eurozone reform
  3. Growing €176bn EU trade deficit with China
  4. All 4.8m Swedish homes get 'war preparation' leaflet
  5. Trump warns Nato allies' low budgets will be 'dealt with'
  6. Only Estonia, Greece and UK hit Nato spending target
  7. EU to start process to counter US Iran sanctions
  8. Macedonia PM sees 'possible solutions' in Greek name row

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  2. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and reconciliation is a process that takes decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  3. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  4. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  5. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  7. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual Report celebrates organization’s tenth anniversary
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cooperation Needed on Green Exports and Funding
  10. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li Confirms China Will Continue to Open Up
  11. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach
  12. Sustainable Energy Week 2018"Lead the Clean Energy Transition"- Register and Join Us in Brussels from 5 to 7 May

Latest News

  1. Facebook threatened with removal from EU-US data pact
  2. Defence firms 'reap benefits' of their advice to EU
  3. Athens mayor wants direct access to EU migration fund
  4. Nordics could be first carbon-negative region in world
  5. Zuckerberg and Trump top the EU's agenda This WEEK
  6. Integration of Syrian refugees in Europe needs scrutiny
  7. Bulgarian PM: No asylum reform without stronger border
  8. Eight countries to miss EU data protection deadline