Europe’s food safety commissioner urged countries to stop “blaming and shaming” one another over a continental eggs contamination scare on Friday.
Tensions between agricultural ministers in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany have risen after traces of a moderately toxic pesticide – called fipronil – were found in batches of eggs.
While Belgian regulators were criticized for not acting fast enough after the fipronil contamination was first reported, Belgium’s agriculture minister argued on Wednesday that it had been the Dutch who were dragging their feet in response to the potentially harmful pesticide.
“Blaming and shaming will bring us nowhere and I want to stop this,” EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis, said in a statement on Friday.
“We need to work together to draw lessons learnt and move forward instead of losing energy on finger pointing,” he added.
Andriukaitis said he planned to organize a meeting of ministers and national watchdogs before the end of September in an attempt to resolve the ongoing dispute.
Two arrested in connection to egg contamination scare
Meantime, two people were arrested in connection to Europe’s latest food scandal on Thursday, Dutch prosecutors said.
A joint Belgian-Dutch task force raided eight poultry farms in the Netherlands this week, according to the Netherlands’ prosecution service, with two arrests made on individuals suspected of endangering public health.
Fipronil, which is banned by the EU’s food industry, had been linked to a Dutch supplier of cleaning products by authorities.
Millions of eggs have been pulled from supermarket shelves across Europe since the scandal was reported by poultry farms in July. However, some national regulators have expressed concern that other products with the fipronil contamination, such as cakes and biscuits, had still not been withdrawn from sale.
The U.K.’s Food Standard’s Agency (FSA) said Thursday that it estimated around 700,000 affected eggs from Dutch farms had been distributed to Britain.
While some products that used Dutch eggs have since been withdrawn from supermarket shelves in Britain, the FSA confessed that many of the items which included the toxic pesticide will now have been consumed.
The contaminated eggs, originating mainly from the Netherlands, have been found to contain fipronil – a popular pesticide used to treat parasites commonly found in poultry. Fipronil has been banned by the EU’s food industry.
The World Health Organization said fipronil is “moderately toxic” to humans when it is consumed in large quantities and can have dangerous effects on the kidneys, liver and thyroid glands.
NOVA, the Netherlands’ food standards agency, said fipronil can cause “nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dizziness and epileptic seizures.” However, the agency also stressed its effects were reversible.
There is no evidence yet that anyone has been harmed.
Two arrested in connection with Europe’s ‘toxic’ eggs scandal, EU Commissioner calls for summit – CNBC