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Toxic eggs crisis reaches Hong Kong as 17 nations are affected by scandal

Mirror logo Mirror 11/8/2017 Ruki Sayid

The toxic egg scandal which engulfed British supermarkets has now spread to 17 nations as far as Hong Kong.

An investigation has revealed 15 EU countries as well as Switzerland are affected by millions of eggs contaminated with a hazardous pesticide.

Four UK chains have cleared shelves of tens of thousands of lunchtime snacks feared to be tainted with fipronil - a chemical used to kill insects including ants, beetles and cockroaches.

Asda , Morrisons , Sainsbury’s and Waitrose axed popular sandwiches, salads and sandwich fillers made with eggs imported from the Netherlands which is at the centre of the health scare.

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The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is expected to be part of top level talks with EU bigwigs and national watchdogs next month on the crisis sweeping the Continent.

Britain became embroiled in the toxic egg saga after it was revealed 700,000 eggs from Dutch farms at the centre of the contamination scare had been imported to be used in processed food.

While “shell eggs” sold in cartons across major supermarkets are not affected as they are all British, sandwiches, fillers and salads made with Dutch eggs have been dumped as a precaution.

In a war of words Belgium has come under fire for failing to act quickly when it was made aware of the possibility of insecticide fipronil in eggs from the Netherlands last month.

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But it said the Dutch were to blame for being too slow to respond to inquiries.

Either way, Brits have been kept in the dark for a month as reports of contaminated eggs reaching the UK first came to light a week ago when it was believed 21,000 infected eggs were in shops.

This week that figure was hastily revised to 700,000 as the FSA revealed some contaminated products would have been eaten before the mass withdrawal because of their short shelf life.

Fipronil which is also used to treat fleas, lice and ticks in cats and dogs, is hazardous for humans and can damage kidneys, liver and thyroid glands.

Its use is banned on animals in the food chain and it is also harmful to honey bees.

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While the FSA said there was a minimal risk to health for anyone who had eaten contaminated egg products, it pointed out the chemical should not have made its way into eggs.

FSA chairman Heather Hancock said: “The number of eggs involved is small in proportion to the number of eggs we eat, and it is very unlikely that there is a risk to public health.

“Based on the available evidence there is no need for people to change the way they consume or cook eggs. However, fipronil is not legally allowed for use near food-producing animals and it shouldn’t be there.”

Eggs are now being tested across the UK and a criminal investigation has been launched in the Netherlands where two men have been arrested.

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The pesticide scare has already seen 180 Dutch poultry farms shut down. The probe centres on the possible use of fipronil in detergent used to clean barns to kill red mites.

It is the biggest egg scandal to rock the industry since the 1980s when then Tory health minister Edwina Currie brought the industry to its knees with claims that most UK eggs were infected with salmonella .

So far 15 EU countries have been hit by the scare - Britain, France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Austria, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia and Denmark - along with non-EU Switzerland and Hong Kong.

Britain produces 10 billion eggs a year which account for 85% of the nation’s needs but 1.8 billion are imported.

The Netherlands is Europe’s biggest egg exporter and ships 65% of the 10 billion eggs it produces every year.

Products cleared from supermarket shelves:

By Sainsbury’s Ham and Egg Salad (240g), use by 9th-14th August 9-14

By Sainsbury’s Potato and Egg Salad (300g), use by 9th-14th August 9-14

Morrison’s Potato and Egg Salad (250g), use by August 13

Morrisons Egg and Cress Sandwich (cafe only), use by August 11

Morrisons Cafe Sandwich Selection, use by August 11

Waitrose Free Range Egg Mayonnaise Deli Filler (240g) use by August 13 and 16

Waitrose Free Range Reduced Fat Egg Mayonnaise Deli Filler (170g), use by August 14

Waitrose Free Range Egg and Bacon Deli Filler (170g), use by August 14 and 16

Asda Baby potato and free range egg salad (270g) use by August 9-14

Asda Spinach and free range egg snack pot (110g), use by August 9-13

Asda FTG Ham and Cheddar ploughman’s salad bowl (320g), use by August 9-13

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