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Europe insecticide egg crisis not yet spread to France

Consumers across Europe are being warned to avoid eggs stamped with an ‘NL’ production code after an insecticide contamination across Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden, although the crisis has "not yet" spread to France. 

The French minister for agriculture and food (ministère de l’agriculture et de l’alimentation) confirmed that the problem has “to date” not yet spread to France, although one breeder in the Pas-de-Calais is under investigation after informing the authorities that the offending substance - the insecticide fipronil - may “potentially have been used” in its operation.

France is working with Belgium to investigate the risk to the country, the minister confirmed this week. 

Supermarkets in the Netherlands and Germany were the first to pull eggs from their supermarket shelves this week, after it emerged that several million Dutch eggs were suspected of containing traces of fipronil.

Health authorities in Sweden and Belgium then began to do the same with suspected batches.

If ingested in large amounts, fipronil can cause damage to the liver, thyroid glands, and kidneys.

Just yesterday, a spokeswoman for the Belgian food safety agency admitted that Belgium had known about the contamination since June this year, but had not publicly announced it due to a related ongoing fraud investigation, and its own investigations into the severity of the situation.

Most of the contaminated eggs have come from exported stock from the Netherlands and Belgium, with almost 200 farms now closed in the Netherlands due to the issue.

The insecticide contamination has reportedly been linked to a Dutch company called Chickfriend, which specialises in eradicating red lice in chickens and which allegedly used fipronil in one of its products, despite the substance being banned for use on animals in the food chain - although this link has not yet been officially confirmed.

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