Hong Kong scrambles to inspect European Union eggs as insecticide found

Tainted eggs confirmed outside EU

Hong Kong Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan (陳肇始) yesterday said authorities were "strengthening" inspections of eggs from Europe.

Nordic Egg is part of Germany-based group Waden Group GmbH, which claims to be Europe's largest boiled and peeled eggs company.

The Centre for Food Safety revealed on Friday that two samples of Dutch eggs exceeded the local legal limit for Fipronil, a highly toxic pest control chemical banned from the production of food.

Nearly all lab tests show that only very low levels of Fipronil - seven to 10 times lower than the maximum permitted - have been detected in eggs from the treated chickens, although one test in Belgium was above the European limit.

Ministers and food safety chiefs are set to meet on September 26 in a bid to get countries to stop "blaming and shaming" each other over the scare involving the chemical fipronil.

European Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said that "this is not, let's be clear, a crisis meeting" and it is being held next month to give "distance to the events".

Dutch farms confirmed to have insecticide- tainted eggs were known to have shipped products to Hong Kong, the European Commission said.

"In view of the recent issue of fipronil contamination, we have tested locally produced and imported eggs, and found them free from fipronil".

Eggs or egg products from those producers have reached Austria, Britain, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia and Sweden, as well as Switzerland and Hong Kong outside the EU. European Union trade and agriculture spokesman Daniel Rosario said Friday that farms have also been blocked in France and Germany.

It added that the poultry industry should "also stop using or selling the affected batch of the product immediately should they possess it".

Stephane Travert said on RMC radio Friday that some 244,000 eggs imported from the Netherlands and Belgium and sold in France were affected by the contamination from pesticide Fipronil.

"We regularly inspect and conduct sampling of the eggs and hen farms to ensure compliance with our food safety and animal health standards and requirements", said AVA.

The agency said Thursday the Danish distributor, Danaeg Products, has been ordered to recall the eggs because "the content is illegal" but "not unsafe".

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