GERMANY – The Agriculture Ministry of Lower Saxony has ordered the recall of 73,000 eggs from six German states as they were due to be sold in the market while found to be contaminated with fipronil.

Fipronil is used to treat lice and ticks in chickens and some tests show that it can harm kidneys, the liver and thyroid gland in people.

The full scope and cause of the contamination remains unclear, but the contaminated eggs originate from the Netherlands, the source of the original fipronil outbreak in August 2017.

According to FoodingredientsFirst, this comes less than a year after the insecticide fipronil found its way into millions of eggs in the Netherlands and sparked a contamination scandal that rippled around Europe.

According to the Ministry “the substance fipronil was detected above the permitted maximum residue level,” and concerns eggs from an organic laying hen farm in the Netherlands sampled at a packing station in the Vechta district.

The observed contents are 0.014; 0.019 and 0.007mg/kg fipronil. The maximum permitted level according to EU Regulation No. 396/2005 is 0.005mg/kg.

Due to the proven maximum exceedance, the eggs are not marketable and have been ordered to be withdrawn from the market.

The Ministry stressed that on the basis of the assessment of the Federal Office for Risk Assessment (BfR), the values determined are far below those where there is a risk to health.

In August, the Dutch food and product safety board (Nederlandse Voedsel- en Warenautoriteit, or NVWA) banned 180 poultry farms from sending their eggs to market over fears they may be contaminated with fipronil.

At the time, the NVWA also warned consumers not to eat eggs with the code X-NL-40155XX, as these contained enough fipronil to present “an acute danger to public health.”

The Dutch poultry industry was hit hard by last year’s fipronil crisis and the scandal rocked the food industry and consumer confidence in the Netherlands and Germany as well as the UK.

At the end of last year, the British Egg Industry Council (BEIC) said that the EU egg shortage following the fipronil crisis highlighted how many factors had been contributing to an EU-wide shortage of eggs for processing.

BEIC has now issued an up-to-date statement with regards to the resurfacing of fipronil and is calling on the UK Food Standards Agency to launch a program of random testing of eggs and egg products arriving in Britain.

“Unfortunately, we are not surprised by these developments as we have been concerned for some time that the initial issues following the product recalls we saw last year had not been thoroughly resolved,” said Andrew Joret, Chairman, British Egg Industry Council.

“With the extent of the issue unclear, we are asking the Food Standards Agency to take decisive action to protect UK food businesses, and are calling for random testing of all imported eggs and egg products.”

“Food businesses should protect themselves by specifying British Lion eggs and egg products, which are produced to the highest standards of food safety, and reassure their customers by using the British Lion mark on pack.”

Germany’s Agriculture Ministry said the official investigations were on-going and further results were expected soon.