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‘Nearly quarter million contaminated eggs sold in France’

A laboratory technician tests eggs for the insecticide fipronil in Germany. Andreas Gebert/REUTERS

French Agriculture Minister Stephane Travert said that nearly 250,000 insecticide-contaminated eggs have been sold in France since April, adding the risk for consumers was very low.

“The risk for human health is very low, given the levels of fipronil detected in the contaminated eggs, but also given French habits of food consumption,” Travert said.

A first batch of 196,000 eggs, imported from Belgium, was distributed between April 16 and May 2, and was followed by a second batch of 48,000 Dutch eggs sold by the retailer chain Leader Price between July 19 and 28, Travert told RMC radio.

Fipronil is a chemical used to get rid of fleas, lice and ticks from farm livestock but is banned by the European Union from use in the food industry.

Contaminated eggs have been found in at least 11 countries since the scare went public on August 1, with millions of eggs and egg-based products being pulled from supermarket shelves.

Denmark was the latest to say it had been affected, announcing that 20 tonnes of contaminated eggs imported from Belgian suppliers had been sold there.

But there has been finger-pointing among European countries over the issue.

Belgium earlier this week accused the Netherlands of knowing about the fipronil eggs since November 2016 and failing to notify other countries, a charge the Dutch have denied.

However Belgium itself has been forced to admit that it knew about fipronil in eggs back in June but kept it secret for nearly two months because of a criminal investigation.

Dutch and Belgian investigators carried out coordinated raids on several premises on Thursday, arresting two people at a Dutch firm believed to be at the centre of the crisis.

While Germany has called for action over “criminal” activity, the European Union will be calling an emergency meeting of ministers to deal with the situation.

- with AFP