700000 insecticide-tainted eggs imported to UK - gov't

France orders national investigation amid Europe tainted egg scandal

Denmark is the latest European country to discover eggs contaminated with fipronil in its food chain.

France has ordered a national investigation into all egg-product manufacturers in the wake of Europe's insecticide-tainted egg scandal, China's Xinhua news agency reported French Agriculture Minister Stephane Travert as saying on Wednesday.

Around 85% of eggs consumed in Britain are laid in the UK.

Fipronil is commonly used in veterinary products to get rid of fleas, lice and ticks but it is banned by the European Union from being used to treat animals destined for human consumption, such as chickens.

In the Netherlands the criminal investigation is so far focused on ChickFriend, a pest control company in Barneveld.

Subsequent testing of eggs found them tainted with the banned insecticide, and around 180 Dutch farms have been locked down for testing.

"Many of the eggs involved were mixed with other eggs which have not come from affected farms, so fipronil residues will be highly diluted", said the agency, referring to the insecticide which was first found in Dutch eggs. She said it was unknown how long the restrictions would remain in place because the authorities were still trying to analyse results and understand how long the effect of the treatment would continue to contaminate eggs.

"There are therefore no more products on the market", a government spokesman said.

Some of the products made from these eggs will have had a short shelf life and will have already been consumed, however, those identified that are still within the expiry date are now being withdrawn by the businesses involve. "We have to know when this substance was used and where". The organisation issued a statement saying that egg producers were innocent victims of something that should not have happened. The eggs were produced in the Netherlands, the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration (DVFA) said.

Nearly all eggs tested in Belgium have been found to contain very low levels of the insecticide. "If the laying hens where treated with fipronil, and fipronil was found in the eggs of the laying hens, the meet of the broiler chickens is tested for fipronil, before the broiler chickens are brought to the slaughterhouse". The company demanded a second opinion, and the second test actually showed levels above the maximum permitted.

The leader of Poultry-Vision has been "heard" in July, and then "released under strict conditions", says the prosecutor, who "takes the facts very seriously, having regard to their gravity, their magnitude, character, and organized, and their global context". In extreme cases, fipronil poisoning can lead to nausea, vomiting, dizziness and epileptic fits.

For children the risk is somewhat higher, may damage internal organs, including kidney, liver and thyroid gland.

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