Recently there have been an increasing number of reports about insecticide contaminated eggs spreading throughout Europe, as well as Hong Kong. In total, there have been 15 effected countries so far, resulting in multiple egg based products being pulled from shelves. This has understandably left many consumers concerned, but should you be worried about the epidemic and how did this egg scandal happen?
How the Egg Scandal Started
The egg scandal has been traced back to poultry farms located in the Netherlands. It was found that an insecticide – named Fipronil – was used to prevent lice in hens, subsequently leaving traces in their eggs. It became public knowledge when Aldi removed eggs from all of their German stores in August as a precaution.
Although the revelations about the egg scandal are only just becoming apparent for the general population, there are accusations that Dutch and Belgium authorities knew long before now. It’s been reported that Belgian officials were aware of this issue in June, two months before Aldi pulled the eggs from German shelves.
However, Belgium’s Agricultural Minster says the Dutch knew about it in November 2016, something which the Dutch deny. This has led to investigations and raids of farms and companies in both nations, in order to determine who started it and the reason for covering it up.
What Would Happen If You Ate a Contaminated Egg?
Although Fipronil does have toxic properties it’s highly unlikely consumption would be very serious and any effects it does have are reversible. The symptoms of potential ingestion are the following:
- Stomach pains
- Triggering of epileptic seizures
In the event large quantities are consumed it can damage the kidneys, liver, and thyroid glands. It should be noted that although the amount of Fipronil in the contaminated eggs is over the EU’s legal limit, the amount it is still likely to be very low.
Do UK Shoppers Need to Avoid Eggs?
So far, it’s been reported that an estimated 700,000 contaminated eggs had been sent to the UK. Although this sounds like a high number it’s a tiny fraction of the total amount. To put it into perspective, we eat around 34 million eggs in a single day as a nation.
This means that the likelihood of someone in the UK eating a contaminated egg is very slim and all the contaminated eggs have probably already passed through the food chain. If you’re concerned about eating any dangerous eggs you can choose to avoid them for a short while, although the Food Standards Agency has stated there is “no need” to avoid eggs in your diet.