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Belgium
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Belgium: Dutch knew about contaminated eggs last year

09/08/17Government

Belgium has indicated that the Netherlands knew about a potentially dangerous egg contamination last year.

Belgian officials had already admitted to knowing, in June, that Dutch eggs might contain the harmful insecticide, fipronil.

The information was not made public until a month later, a move criticised across Europe.

However, Belgian Agriculture Minister Denis Ducarme said a document now suggests that the Netherlands knew about the problem as far back as November 2016.

The chemical in question, fipronil, can harm people’s kidneys, liver and thyroid glands.

It is used to treat lice and ticks in animals, but it is not approved for use in the food industry.

Ducarme made the admission about the Netherlands’ alleged long-term knowledge of the problem during a hearing on the crisis in the Belgian parliament.

He said that despite the reports of fipronil in eggs, Dutch authorities made “no official communication”, and has asked for an explanation from officials.

Belgian and Dutch authorities are implementing the destruction and recall of eggs as a precautionary measure.

Amid the contamination scandal, Dutch eggs have been pulled from supermarket shelves across Europe. Millions were sold in Germany, and possibly as far as France and the UK.

More than 100 poultry farms have been closed during the investigation.

When Belgium initially came under fire for not reporting its detection of the chemical in early June, a spokesperson said they had delayed reporting the contamination because the case had been referred to a prosecutor over a fraud investigation.

The cause of the contamination is not yet clear, but a number of reports have suggested fipronil may have been mixed with another insecticide to improve its effectiveness.