European shoppers not told about insecticide in eggs

Farmers throw eggs after tests found Dutch eggs contaminated by fipronil which can be harmful to humans

Tests had shown the chemical fipronil, which can harm kidneys, liver and thyroid glands, was found in the eggs.

Dutch food safety watchdog NVWA published a list this week of the serial numbers of eggs that were deemed unsafe, with one specific range of eggs labeled as an acute health hazard because of possible contamination with the insecticide fipronil.

The Commission said Monday that under its European Union rapid alert system it had been determined that eggs under suspicion of contamination had also been distributed to France and Britain via Germany.

"We have known since early June there was potentially a problem with fipronil in the poultry sector", Belgium's food safety agency spokeswoman Katrien Stragier told the BBC.

It comes after Aldi and Lidl pulled all Dutch eggs from its shelves in Germany last week as the scandal spread through Europe.

Food producers, however, say there is no need to remove mayonnaise, cakes and other products containing egg from the shelves.

The authorities in Belgium, Switzerland and Sweden also said they were tracking shipments and removing eggs, as the impact of the affair widened.

The number of eggs involved in the scare represents about 0.0001% of the nearly two billion eggs imported into the United Kingdom each year.

It said that it used a pesticide it got from a Belgian supplier and now there is an ongoing investigation about whether the Dutch company was aware of the toxic insecticide.

Dutch authorities have shuttered 138 poultry farms - about a fifth of those across the country - and warned that eggs from another 59 farms contained high enough levels of fipronil that they should not be eaten by children.

GERMAN Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt on Saturday expressed concern about news that Belgian authorities first learned about the possible contamination of eggs with an insecticide in June, a month before the issue became public.

Belgian officials said on Saturday they had kept the problem secret and failed to trigger the EU's global food safety alert system, but said it was because of a fraud probe.

But it is banned from being used to treat animals destined for human consumption, such as chickens.