EU to call contaminated eggs crisis meeting

Millions of eggs have been removed from supermarket shelves and destroyed— AFP

Millions of eggs have been removed from supermarket shelves and destroyed— AFP

Brussels — The EU will call an emergency meeting of ministers over insecticide-tainted eggs, European Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis said yesterday, appealing for an end to “blaming and shaming” over the scandal.

Andriukaitis said he wanted the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany to stop trading accusations about who is responsible for the scare, which involves fipronil, a chemical that can be harmful to humans.

“Blaming and shaming will bring us nowhere and I want to stop this,” the Lithuanian commissioner, who also deals with food safety issues, said in response to emailed questions.

“But first things first. Our common job and our priority now is to manage the situation, gather information, focus on the analysis and lessons to be learned in view to improve our system and prevent criminal activity,” Andriukaitis said.

He added: “That is exactly what I have discussed with the German, Belgian and Dutch ministers this week. I proposed to hold a high-level meeting gathering the ministers concerned as well as the representatives of the food safety agencies in all member states involved as soon as we have all the facts available.”

Contaminated eggs have been found in at least 11 countries since the scare went public on August 1, with millions of eggs and egg-based products being pulled from supermarket shelves.

Denmark was the latest to say it had been affected, announcing that 20 contaminated tonnes of eggs imported from Belgian suppliers had been sold there.

But there have been rows among Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany – the three countries where the contaminated eggs were first discovered – about who is responsible.

Germany has called for action over “criminal” activity.

Belgium earlier this week accused the Netherlands of knowing about the fipronil eggs since November 2016 and failing to notify other countries, a charge the Dutch have denied.

However, Belgium itself has been forced to admit that it knew about fipronil in eggs back in June but kept it secret for nearly two months because of a criminal investigation.

Dutch and Belgian investigators carried out coordinated raids on several premises on Thursday, arresting two people at a Dutch firm believed to be at the centre of the crisis. — AP

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