About 200,000 eggs contaminated with an insecticide have been eaten by French consumers, according to the French agriculture ministry on Friday.
The first batch of about 200,000 eggs contaminated with Fipronil imported from the Netherlands and Belgium by two different egg-product manufacturing factories have been eaten, French Minister of Agriculture and Food Stephane Travert told reporters on Friday.
He said these eggs were sold between April 16 and May 2, but added there was little harm to the health of those who ate the eggs.
- Dutch may need to cull millions of hens after eggs contaminated with insecticide
- Thousands more possibly tainted eggs found in Britain
Affected supermarkets are recalling the second batch of about 48,000 contaminated eggs from Belgium sold between July 19 and 28. It remains unknown how many of them have been eaten.
France's agriculture ministry confirmed on Monday that 13 batches of eggs contaminated with the insecticide have been delivered to France via five food processing factories.
Consuming of the contaminated eggs poses little potential health risks, said an evaluation report released by the French health and safety agency National Social Security Administration (ANSES) on Friday. The agency said the conclusion was reached based on factors like the toxicity of Fipronil, the low levels of contamination shown by tests and French consumers' habits.
French Ministry of Agriculture and Food is still investigating about 80 companies got involved in the scandal. The ministry is trying to track down the whereabouts of these contaminated eggs and how the chemical Fipronil ended up being used in food.
So far no evidence indicates that eggs made in France have been contaminated with Fipronil. At present, domestic eggs have dominated the shelves at local supermarkets, and their price and sales have not been affected by the scandal.
Fipronil is a pesticide effective on a large number of pests. It is considered slightly poisonous by the World Health Organization (WHO) and is hence forbidden on animals destined for the food chain to prevent damage to the human liver, thyroid and kidney.
Warning about pesticide last November
Dutch media are reporting that a suspect in the scandal is denying involvement and says he tipped off authorities last year about the use of the insecticide Fipronil by two companies believed to be under investigation.
Dutch news show EenVandaag reported Friday that Nick Hermens said that he named a Dutch company called ChickFriend and its Belgian supplier in an anonymous tip last November.
Two men arrested on suspicion of involvement in the illegal use of Fipronil to treat lice in laying hens are widely reportedly to be directors of ChickFriend, although Dutch prosecutors haven't released details.
The Dutch food safety agency has acknowledged receiving an anonymous tip about the possible use of Fipronil, but said it didn't suggest that the pesticide could have contaminated eggs.
Since July 20, Dutch farmers have destroyed millions of unsellable eggs and culled about 1 million hens, said Hennie de Haan of the Dutch union of poultry farmers. Nobody has been reported to have fallen ill as a result of eating the tainted eggs.