EU calls talks on contaminated eggs as scandal spreads to Asia
Hong Kong, Switzerland and 15 EU countries have received eggs contaminated with the chemical fipronil, which can harm human health.world Updated: Aug 12, 2017 00:25 IST
The European Union on Friday called an emergency meeting to stop “blaming and shaming” over the insecticide-tainted eggs scandal as it emerged for the first time that the crisis had spread to Asia.
Hong Kong, Switzerland and 15 European Union countries have all received eggs contaminated with the chemical fipronil, which can harm human health, the European Commission said.
With concern going global, the commission said it had now called a meeting of ministers and food safety chiefs from affected EU countries, setting a provisional date of September 26.
“Blaming and shaming will bring us nowhere and I want to stop this,” Vytenis Andriukaitis, the European Commissioner for health and food safety, told AFP as he announced the meeting. He urged the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany — the countries at the epicentre of the crisis — to stop trading accusations about who is responsible for the scare.
Dutch health minister Edith Schippers, speaking publicly about the matter for the first time, admitted on Thursday that errors had been made in the government’s handling of the crisis.
Fipronil is commonly used to get rid of fleas, lice and ticks from animals but is banned by the European Union from use in the food industry.
The EU insists there is no threat to human health, but the World Health Organization (WHO) says that when eaten in large quantities it can harm people’s kidneys, liver and thyroid glands.
Millions of eggs and egg-based products have been pulled from European supermarkets since August 1 and there are growing questions about who knew what, and when.
European Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said that “this is not, let’s be clear, a crisis meeting” and it is being held next month to get “distance to the events”.
The EU is seeking to quickly end the egg feud and maintain unity after a string of crises including Brexit, a migration influx and debt in the eurozone.
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.