Dr David Jukes, The University of Reading, UK

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Food Law News - EU - 2017

Council Press releases, 5 September 2017

EGGS - EU agriculture ministers received an overview of the fipronil contaminated eggs issue

During the second half of today’s informal meeting of EU ministers for agriculture and fisheries (AGRIFISH), European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis discussed the unlawful use of fipronil in egg production.

Commissioner Andriukaitis informed the EU ministers on the steps taken by his commission and the actions that will follow. He also invited the ministers to a high-level ministerial meeting in Brussels on 26 September to discuss how to improve the way EU networks are dealing with food safety and food fraud.

 “The meeting on 26 September will be an opportunity to draw some conclusions that we will then be able to present at our next formal Council meeting,” Andriukaitis said, stressing that he “will remain extremely vigilant and will not tolerate anyone’s criminal actions putting into question the integrity of our entire food chain – one of the economic pillars of the Union, and our good reputation.”

The Minister for Rural Affairs of Estonia, Tarmo Tamm, said that the health of EU citizens is extremely important and that the Estonian Presidency will take this issue very seriously.

 “There is a need for further improvement in the cooperation and exchange of information between countries in order to resolve these kinds of crisis situations faster and more efficiently,” Minister Tamm stressed.

In several EU member states, authorities have found eggs and egg products that have been contaminated with fipronil. Fipronil is used in veterinary drugs, such as flea, lice and tick treatments on cats and dogs, and as an insecticide against cockroaches, ants and termites. Using fipronil on the animals involved in food production, including chickens, is not allowed.

While the risk to human health is low, the consequences of this criminal activity have greatly impacted consumer confidence, as the ramifications of the illegal use of fipronil on laying hens has become an EU-wide issue with hundreds of farms blocked from production.

Small quantities of egg products contaminated with fipronil have also made it to Estonia. Currently, supervision authorities are assessing the extent of their distribution in the Estonian market.

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