Millions of potentially contaminated eggs have been pulled from supermarket shelves across Europe, including in the UK, after some were found to have been contaminated with Fiprinol. The insecticide, which is harmful to humans, is banned for use on animals in the food chain. The contamination was discovered on Dutch poultry farms; so far 700,000 eggs have been recalled here in the UK.
Mike Williams is Director of leading UK food safety consultancy STS. STS. He says: “This ‘scandal’ seems to be something of a moving feast with statements issued over recent days by the Food Standards Agency changing tack as more evidence appears. On Monday, the FSA advised that a very small number of eggs had been affected, but by Thursday they advised that more eggs than previously thought were in the UK food chain and a variety of product recalls have been instituted.
“I’m pretty certain that this is not going be the next horsemeat scandal as it seems that the contamination was not purposefully done i.e. there was no thought process to contaminate eggs and food fraud is not on the agenda. It is however, perhaps a salutary lesson in recognising that food incidents can leave a significant footprint!
“The majority, if not all, shell eggs supplied by shops, farms and supermarkets in the UK are laid in the UK and, as such, consumers should not be fearful of using contaminated eggs that they have previously bought. However, eggs are imported for use in food production and, whilst it appears that the risk from Fipronil is low, food businesses and consumers should check that they do not have any foods in their stores that are part of the recall.
“From a food supplier and food business operator point of view, it is possible that Local Authority food safety enforcement teams will be checking that the recalls are being taken seriously and where product is identified, that it is removed from sale and returned to the supplier (or discarded). As such, ensuring that appropriate checks have been carried out assists in making enforcement checks as efficient as possible.”