Saturday, 12 August 2017

Global egg recall for fipronil

This week there has been a breaking story about chemical contamination of eggs produced in Europe. The chemical concerned is Fripronil, a brand spectrum insecticide which is not authorised for use in the food supply chain. It is a commonly used chemical in the veterinary treatment of pests such as fleas and mites on dogs and cats and as an insecticide in the global food supply chain. Fipronil is a broad-spectrum insecticide used against fleas, lice, ticks, cockroaches, mites and other insects [1].

The UK Food Standards Agency reported on the 7th August 2017 that:

"Following concerns raised in the Netherlands about a substance called Fipronil which has been used inappropriately in cleaning products on chicken farms, we have identified that a very small number of eggs have been distributed to the UK from the farms affected. Fipronil is not authorised for use as a veterinary medicine or pesticide around food producing animals".

The update on the 10th August 2017 stated:

"Investigations into the Fipronil incident in Europe continue. We have now established that more eggs from affected farms than previously identified came to the UK. It is very unlikely that these eggs pose a risk to public health, but as Fipronil is unauthorised for use in food-producing animals we have acted with urgency to ensure that consumers are protected. ... It is likely that the number of eggs that have come to the UK is closer to 700,000 than the 21,000 we previously believed had been imported. However, as this represents 0.007% of the eggs we consume in the UK every year, it remains the case that it is very unlikely that there is any risk to public health from consuming these foods".

The list of products recalled in the UK have a use by expiry date latest of the 16th August.

The RASFF portal highlights alerts and rejection notices for food and feed safety. Between November 2011 and July 2017 there were 45 border rejections or attention notices for fipronil not associated with eggs. On 20th July 2017 there was food alert raised on the RASFF database based on sampling on the 15th July 2017 by Belgium for fipronil (between 0.0031 and 1.2 mg/kg - ppm) in eggs. 

There is a further notice for the 11th August 2017 raised by Luxembourg for fipronil (0.008 mg/kg - ppm) in eggs from the Netherlands.

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) has provided a risk assessment made on the basis of a notice in the Rapid Alert System for Foods and Feeds (RASFF) according to which increased levels of fipronil were detected in eggs and egg products in Belgium. It states that:

"The currently available results of the analysis of fipronil levels range from 0.0031 to 1.2 mg per kg in chicken eggs and from 0.0015 to 0.0156 mg per kg in chicken meat."

Click on links for more details.


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