Health alert for the sale of eggs contaminated with pesticide

Millions of eggs have been and will be removed from supermarket shelves in European countries due to the risk of pesticide contamination.

The alarm began in Belgium, where high levels of "fipronil" have been detected, an insecticide that is used as an antiparasitic and that can be absorbed by the feathers and skin of treated animals.

The scandal has jumped because the Belgian authorities did not notify the rest of European countries about this contamination in time ... and because they have taken almost two months to admit that the toxicity of the pesticide poses a risk to the health of consumers.

Outrage at the delay in the alert

While Belgium investigated the origin of the contamination and launched (with almost two months of delay) the notice to the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed, in the Netherlands the first cases of contaminated consignments were detected. Then Germany fell. Why didn't Belgium notify Europe as soon as it found out?

Apparently, the first cases of contaminated eggs were detected in early June. And the pesticide is suspected to have been used since January.

But the Belgian health authorities have taken their time to investigate, check whether the levels of fipronil found in eggs were harmful to health and finally warn the European Union on July 20. Almost two months later.

At first they claimed that the toxicity levels were not so high as to pose a risk to the health of consumers.

Over the weeks, the analyzes have revealed that the pesticide levels found in the eggs are well above what is allowed by European regulations.

Fipronil poisoning in people causes headaches, nausea, stomach problems and in the long term affects the kidneys, liver and thyroid.

Food crisis in several European countries

This is not the first time that Belgium has panicked and hides information when it detects contamination in its food chain. In 1999, toxic carcinogenic dioxins were found in contaminated feed that had affected its meat and dairy market.

For months, Belgium withheld this information from Europe to avoid losses, but the consequences were much worse: the market collapsed, neighboring countries imposed restrictions on the purchase of Belgian products and even led to the fall of the government.

In the current pesticide egg crisis, German Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt has come to define Belgian silence as "criminal attitude".

The governments of the affected countries denounce that the health of their consumers, especially children, has been put at risk due to their high consumption of eggs per week.

The health alert has already been extended to other countries such as Sweden, Denmark, France, England, Switzerland and Italy, although the crisis mainly affects the Benelux region and Germany.

Several poultry farms have been closed, millions of eggs withdrawn from the market and their consumption in children in the affected countries has been discouraged. Now it is being investigated whether chicken meat has also been contaminated.

In Spain no case of contaminated egg has been detected, yet.

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