Dutch egg scandal hits Ireland as businesses forced to pull products

Food Safety Authority confirms contaminated Dutch eggs supplied to food businesses here


Several Irish food businesses have been forced to remove products from their shelves after it emerged that Dutch eggs and egg products implicated in a contamination scare have been distributed in Ireland.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) said a quantity of liquid pasteurised egg from the Dutch farms in question was supplied to food businesses here last month for use in bakery products. The agency said the product, which had a “use by” date of July 20th, has since been removed from sale.

In addition, it confirmed that a small quantity of boiled eggs also implicated in the scare had been supplied to nine catering outlets here in June.

“All of the food businesses concerned have been contacted and any remaining products removed from sale,” the FSAI said.

“The number of egg products imported is very small. The risk to consumer health is very low,” it said.

Nevertheless, the agency said it would continue to trace any distribution in Ireland.

Dutch investigators on Thursday arrested two men suspected of being involved in the illegal use of the pesticide Fipronil at the poultry farms that sparked the scandal.

The detentions and a series of co-ordinated raids in the Netherlands and Belgium marked another escalation in a widening scandal that has seen eggs tainted with Fipronil, which is not permitted for use around food producing animals, stripped from shelves in countries including the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and most recently the UK.

Four UK supermarkets withdrew products from their shelves on Thursday after it emerged that 700,000 eggs from Dutch farms had been distributed to Britain.

The UK’s Food Standards Agency said the number of contaminated eggs estimated to have reached the UK was far higher than the 21,000 first supposed, and that egg salads from Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Asda, and sandwiches from Waitrose and Morrisons had been withdrawn.

It is believed that the insecticide got into the food chain when it was illegally added to a product used to treat poultry for lice, fleas and ticks. Though no-one has been reported as falling sick, prosecutors said in a statement that there is evidence that public health has been threatened by “the delivery or application of the biocide Fipronil in poultry houses in the egg sector”.

The Dutch investigation, they added, is focusing on a Dutch company that allegedly applied the Fipronil, the presumed Belgian supplier and a Dutch trader who worked together with the supplier. Dutch farms produce billions of eggs each year, the majority for the export market. An estimated five billion eggs are sold each year to Germany alone, according to a poultry farming union in the Netherlands.

The FSAI said Fipronil is an insecticide which is not permitted for use around food producing animals, while noting that traceability on the eggs from the Netherlands contaminated with Fipronil was continuing.

Additional reporting by PA