Dutch farmers 'powerless' on contaminated eggs

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Millions of eggs were taken off shelves in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden and Switzerland after they were found to contain an insecticide called fipronil, which is used in veterinary products to treat things like fleas and ticks.

It said there was no evidence that eggs laid in the United Kingdom are contaminated or that Fipronil has been used inappropriately in the United Kingdom farms - where 85 per cent of the eggs consumed in Britain are laid.

"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.

The European Commission said on Monday that eggs contaminated with an insecticide may have entered the UK, French, Swedish and Swiss market, after notifying the corresponding national authorities.

"We are working closely with the businesses that have received eggs from affected farms".

The Dutch food and product safety board (NVWA) revealed the scandal and raised the alarm last week about eggs that have been contaminated and pose a severe threat to consumers.

Retailers across other European Union countries have now pulled millions of eggs from their supermarkets' shelves over the scare, and it was also reported that millions of hens in the Netherlands may need to be culled because of the contamination.

"Investigations to date indicate that any affected products are no longer on the shelves".

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

Meanwhile Dutch farming organisation LTO said several million hens may need to be culled at 150 companies in the country, with 300,000 having already been killed.

Germany has demanded an explanation from Belgium about why the issue was kept covered up.

Belgian and Dutch authorities are now investigating how the insecticide came into illegal contact with egg-laying chickens.

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

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